Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Moshe Krafchow's plan to prevent San Diego wildfires

Get rid of the underbrush

Krafchow's crew
Krafchow's crew

When Moshe Krafchow talks about his novel approach to reducing the risk of fueling wildfires, he looks like a true believer. “The best thing we can do is work with the plants to get them to their healthiest possible condition,” he says. “We need to deal with the broad condition of neglect that results in so much fuel.” Krafchow, who is the owner of TreeCulture Area Resources Management, has been setting up test sites mainly in the San Diego area to demonstrate that his innovative ideas work. (Much of urban San Diego is rated at very high risk of fires.)The idea isn’t that complicated.

Krafchow’s plan: knock down ‘fire ladders’’ by pruning the build-up of dry, dead plant matter that reaches from the ground into the trees and put it on the forest floor, and bring in the goats to eat whatever they can reach – creating a 5-6 foot open air space from the ground to the crown.

Moshe Krafchow with unpruned vegetation

Though counterintuitive, stacking the trimmed material on the forest floor means there’s little oxygen there – unlike when the brush is spread high and wide. (Oxygen is one of three key components to fire). It also slows the regrowth of new brush that will become fuel without causing erosion by keeping moisture in the soil. In the Tijuana River valley, where the willows have returned after the horrendous devastation caused by the shot-hole borer beetle, the hand pruning gives the young trees a lovely, lean, healthy and balanced look next to untrimmed willows that look like half-dead shrubbery.

South Park resident Chris Pearson, who worked on conventional brush management projects as part of his city job, now calls the conventional approach a form of insanity. Pearson brought Krafchow in to ‘silviculture’ the canyon section of his home on Penntucket Street.

Pruned tree and treated landscape

“We’d clear cut it and then go back in two years, everything had grown back and we’d clear cut it again. It’s like that saying that insanity is doing the same thing the same way again and again and expecting a different outcome,” Pearson says. “Managing it so what grows is fire resistant is a sustainable, permanent solution.”

While private landowners report they are delighted with his approach, getting permits for both the pilot projects and the work has been something of a struggle. The permit for the two-acre patch he worked on for two years in the Tijuana River Valley Open Space Reserve (on the border between Wild Willows Farm) is probably not going to be renewed – though county biologists applauded it – because his efforts are no longer aligned with a research institution.

The city is slowly reviewing a permit application for private land on a canyon near San Diego State University. But his approach is an applied effort of what the fire community has long been saying:
Brush management is critical to reducing damage and spread of wildfires. Managing the brush is often a clumsy, destructive job of coming in with heavy machinery and tearing it out – or poisoning it with glyphosate. Tearing out plants results in erosion because roots hold soil in place, and poisons that enter plants end up spreading throughout the ecosystems.

The county staff reviewing reports on the river valley project noted that “our biologist believes your methods are quite innovative and very beneficial to the environment. Using these methods has good potential to promoting a healthy forest ecosystem without the use of heavy machinery that disturbs wildlife; which is beneficial for all parties involved.”

All this effort occurs outside the 100’ perimeter of cleared, defensible space prescribed by firefighting agencies including CalFire. That outer landscape is usually neglected, and left to its own process, the dead parts of trees and the brush that grew into the trees and dried out become fuel that feeds fire. Because it’s upright, there’s plenty of oxygen.

“Herbivores (animals that eat greens) used to clear out the brush they could reach, but they are gone now,” he says. “So we prune the dead material off the trees, knock the flammable material down to the ground, and bring in goats to clear the area between the ground and the crown of the trees.”

The services aren’t free, and unlike gardeners, require permits. That has upped the ante on proving Krafchow’s silviculture methods – and has slowed down projects while municipal governments review the innovative and unconventional approach – especially the grazing goats. But Krafchow persists, convinced of the soundness of his methods. “There is no magic formula that says mixing abuse (like clear-cutting and poisoning) with neglect gets to a healthy ecosystem,” he says. “The best thing we can do is work with the plants to get them to their healthiest. Working with the community of organisms is far less expensive and far more sustainable than anything else people are doing.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Hard times for San Diego County cities

Hard times for 17 San Diego County cities
Next Article

More palm greasers’ help wanted

Tom Sudberry, Peter Cooper give to Barbara Bry
Krafchow's crew
Krafchow's crew

When Moshe Krafchow talks about his novel approach to reducing the risk of fueling wildfires, he looks like a true believer. “The best thing we can do is work with the plants to get them to their healthiest possible condition,” he says. “We need to deal with the broad condition of neglect that results in so much fuel.” Krafchow, who is the owner of TreeCulture Area Resources Management, has been setting up test sites mainly in the San Diego area to demonstrate that his innovative ideas work. (Much of urban San Diego is rated at very high risk of fires.)The idea isn’t that complicated.

Krafchow’s plan: knock down ‘fire ladders’’ by pruning the build-up of dry, dead plant matter that reaches from the ground into the trees and put it on the forest floor, and bring in the goats to eat whatever they can reach – creating a 5-6 foot open air space from the ground to the crown.

Moshe Krafchow with unpruned vegetation

Though counterintuitive, stacking the trimmed material on the forest floor means there’s little oxygen there – unlike when the brush is spread high and wide. (Oxygen is one of three key components to fire). It also slows the regrowth of new brush that will become fuel without causing erosion by keeping moisture in the soil. In the Tijuana River valley, where the willows have returned after the horrendous devastation caused by the shot-hole borer beetle, the hand pruning gives the young trees a lovely, lean, healthy and balanced look next to untrimmed willows that look like half-dead shrubbery.

South Park resident Chris Pearson, who worked on conventional brush management projects as part of his city job, now calls the conventional approach a form of insanity. Pearson brought Krafchow in to ‘silviculture’ the canyon section of his home on Penntucket Street.

Pruned tree and treated landscape

“We’d clear cut it and then go back in two years, everything had grown back and we’d clear cut it again. It’s like that saying that insanity is doing the same thing the same way again and again and expecting a different outcome,” Pearson says. “Managing it so what grows is fire resistant is a sustainable, permanent solution.”

While private landowners report they are delighted with his approach, getting permits for both the pilot projects and the work has been something of a struggle. The permit for the two-acre patch he worked on for two years in the Tijuana River Valley Open Space Reserve (on the border between Wild Willows Farm) is probably not going to be renewed – though county biologists applauded it – because his efforts are no longer aligned with a research institution.

The city is slowly reviewing a permit application for private land on a canyon near San Diego State University. But his approach is an applied effort of what the fire community has long been saying:
Brush management is critical to reducing damage and spread of wildfires. Managing the brush is often a clumsy, destructive job of coming in with heavy machinery and tearing it out – or poisoning it with glyphosate. Tearing out plants results in erosion because roots hold soil in place, and poisons that enter plants end up spreading throughout the ecosystems.

The county staff reviewing reports on the river valley project noted that “our biologist believes your methods are quite innovative and very beneficial to the environment. Using these methods has good potential to promoting a healthy forest ecosystem without the use of heavy machinery that disturbs wildlife; which is beneficial for all parties involved.”

All this effort occurs outside the 100’ perimeter of cleared, defensible space prescribed by firefighting agencies including CalFire. That outer landscape is usually neglected, and left to its own process, the dead parts of trees and the brush that grew into the trees and dried out become fuel that feeds fire. Because it’s upright, there’s plenty of oxygen.

“Herbivores (animals that eat greens) used to clear out the brush they could reach, but they are gone now,” he says. “So we prune the dead material off the trees, knock the flammable material down to the ground, and bring in goats to clear the area between the ground and the crown of the trees.”

The services aren’t free, and unlike gardeners, require permits. That has upped the ante on proving Krafchow’s silviculture methods – and has slowed down projects while municipal governments review the innovative and unconventional approach – especially the grazing goats. But Krafchow persists, convinced of the soundness of his methods. “There is no magic formula that says mixing abuse (like clear-cutting and poisoning) with neglect gets to a healthy ecosystem,” he says. “The best thing we can do is work with the plants to get them to their healthiest. Working with the community of organisms is far less expensive and far more sustainable than anything else people are doing.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Thai Joints rule in the Heights

Pick up or delivery, Thai fans have it good on Adams Avenue
Next Article

No longer a David, Stone Brewing recast as a Goliath

The foe of big beer tangles with small breweries over trademarks, including a local IPA
Comments
3

Common sense works. Hopefully governments will adopt.

April 22, 2019

Common sense and government never appears together. Just look at San Diego.

April 24, 2019

This idea is counter to President Trumps idea of "cleaning" the forest floors. Moshe should be getting a tweet soon.

April 24, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close