On a warm Friday in April, nearly 50 firefighters and colleagues from a handful of state agencies cleared more than a mile of overgrown vegetation along Ranch Gate Road, which leads to Tom’s Thumb Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
On its face, the work was a training exercise so members of statewide wildfire response organizations—including the Scottsdale Fire Department—gain experience working together.
Clearing this vegetation had another, more immediate benefit—it helped create an all-important barrier against wildfires. Beautiful green plants dotted with sprays of color make for lovely spring scenery, but turn into dead and dangerous fuel for the
summer fire season.
As the city focuses on managing this threat in the preserve, residents are encouraged to do the same around their homes. Eliminating the non-native “invasive” plants that thrive after rainy seasons not only reduces the threat of fire, but also helps preserve the delicate ecological balance of the desert.
By establishing defensible space around your home, you could help the Fire Department protect your property from brush fires. Specific rules apply if you live in a designated Natural Area Open Space zone, but the general guidelines are to remove dry and dead vegetation on your property, trim tree canopies and remove dead branches and leaves, and do not keep flammable items or foliage underneath wooden decks and overhangs.