El Dorado County Vegetation Management Ordinance

By Mary Elliott-Klemm

Fire season is almost upon us. On May 30, 2019 El Dorado County adopted a Vegetation Management Ordinance, which was revised in February 2020. This article will tell you: What the ordinance is. * What happened during its first year of implementation. * The areas that are slated for inspection in 2020. * How you can be compliant, keep your home safe, and avoid fines.

The Vegetation Management Ordinance builds on existing state law with enforcement provisions. The County prefers to work with residents to gain compliance, but it does have the teeth to enforce the ordinance if necessary. The focus is on a managed space 100’ around habitable structures. The ordinance implements a “Good Neighbor Policy” that, in some cases, crosses property lines and requires additional clearing. The vision is that there will be a phased in approach with an Ordinance that evolves and adapts over time.

The Ordinance does not require “clear cutting” or “moonscaping”. In most cases it does not require the removal of large, healthy trees over 6” in diameter (unless they are dead or dying).

In its first year of Implementation a Vegetation Management website was created that included Frequently Asked Questions, resources, and links to important documents and information. A Vegetation Management flyer was included in property tax bills. County Vegetation Management Ordinance 5101 included fire safe disclosure as required in County real estate transactions. The Vegetation Management Team branched out in the community and attended numerous FireSafe events and joined in many small group meetings. It expanded its presence by collaboration with other County departments.

County Defensible Space Inspections will be done in two new areas this year: Hanks Exchange Road/Oak Hill Area and Deer Valley Rd. in Rescue. Work will continue in last years’ areas: Garden Valley and Pollock Pines. Work will also continue on complaint-related properties. Other Defensive Space inspections are performed by partnering fire agencies and CalFire, which creates the County Emphasis Areas each December. As of March 23, 2021, 616 properties have been inspected : 481 in Garden Valley, 363 in Pollock Pines, 106 Complaints, 37 consultations.

It may seem overwhelming. Perhaps you have a large piece of property filled with underbrush and crowded with trees. Many of us do. Good advice is to start with the areas closest to the house and work outward. Take one project at a time. Separate the vegetation to stop the spread of a fire and remove dead and dying materials.

If you have any further questions, contact The bulk of this article was based on a presentation to the Aukum Fairplay FireSafe Council by John Wilcox, EDC Vegetation Management Analyst.