Vegetation Management Services
Vegetation management is a broad term, which can include managing and maintaining near-home plants and vegetation, known as "defensible space," or large-scale management of wildland area natural ecosystems. The Fire Prevention Division's mission primarily addresses defensible space, the area from buildings out to a radius of 100 feet (or the property line). Both defensible space and wildland fuels modification should protect lives and property while restoring wildfire and ecosystem resiliency, preserving and increasing the health of our natural ecosystems.
Permit Sonoma offers grant-funded service programs that can help you with vegetation management:
The free Chipper Program helps residents create defensible space and reduce the risk from fire-prone vegetation near homes. We hope that our free chipper service will help residents maintain healthy and fire-wise landscapes.
Before a building permit will be issued, construction projects located in High and Very High Fire Severity Zones are required to have a detailed fire prevention plan reviewed by the Fire Prevention Division. The Fire Protection Planning Requirements page contains more detailed information regarding compliance.
Fire Inspectors from the Permit Sonoma Fire Prevention Division and local Fire Districts inspect properties for compliance with State and Sonoma County regulations to lower the risk of future catastrophic wildfires by managing vegetation to modify or reduce hazardous fuels and protect the lives and property of Sonoma County residents while improving forest health and wildfire resilience in the county’s forested areas
The Permit Sonoma Fire Prevention Division will conduct weed complaint inspections for parcels located in the Local Response Area (LRA) within Sonoma County Volunteer Fire Company Jurisdiction only. For parcels located in a fire district, you must contact the fire district directly. If you're unsure of who your local fire district is, please visit our zoning tool and look up your address.
Vegetation Management Plans
Construction projects located in High and Very High Fire Severity Zones are required by ordinance and state codes to have a detailed vegetation management plan developed and reviewed by the Fire Prevention Division before a building permit will be issued.
The Vegetation Management Planning Requirements contains more detailed information regarding compliance with the Vegetation Management standards.
An on-site fire hazard assessment and consultation specific to your project can be performed by Permit Sonoma Fire Prevention Division staff. An inspection will always be performed at the completion of any permitted project for compliance with the Public Resources Code 4291. If you request an on-site assessment, it will result in a written report containing minimum requirements for your Vegetation Management and Defensible Space Plan.
Vegetation Management Plans for projects not located in a high or very high fire severity zone can be completed by following the minimum guidelines located on the Cal Fire website or by following the Living With Fire in Sonoma County homeowner's guide (PDF).
Plans can be developed by the following:
- Landscape Architect
- A qualified individual approved by the Fire Prevention Division
Fire Prevention Division Staff will also provide the same service. A 2-hour minimum (up to 5 hours maximum) fee is charged for this service, based on the inspection hourly rate. This service includes an on-site consultation, creation of a report specific to your fire hazard reduction requirements, normal driving time, plan review, and follow-up telephone consultation as necessary. This maximum does not apply to commercial developments.
What the Report Should Provide
The fire hazard assessment report shall provide information necessary for you to complete the Vegetation Management Site Plan and Written Narrative. Once the Vegetation Management Plan has been submitted and approved, it will be your guide in completing the physical work of vegetation modification and establishment of required Defensible Space Zones on your site.
Defensible space will be inspected as part of the building permit application. Projects meeting the recommendations in the report will be allowed final occupancy. Projects needing additional clearances and management as outlined in the approved plan will be given temporary occupancy until work is completed.
For questions or appointments call our office at (707) 565-2361 to speak with a vegetation management specialist.