Defensible Space

As a reminder, in 2017 Tahoe Donner was awarded Firewise Community® of the Year this year by the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County for our dedication and energy to make its community safer from wildfire.

Practicing good defensible space is an important part of being a property owner in Tahoe Donner. US Forest Service records show that over the last 35 years over 150 fires burned in or within a two-mile radius of Tahoe Donner.

One of the goals of the forestry department is to help property owners bring their properties into compliance with state, local and association fire safety standards. Work completed by individual property owners is key to keeping Tahoe Donner safe from wildfire.

In 2007, the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors adopted a four-year program to inspect all properties, both developed and undeveloped, in the association. The four-year program was completed in 2011.

The Forestry Department has now implemented an eight-year program. If any deficiencies are reported, owners will be given 45 days to correct them. Following is a checklist of fire safety items for around your home. You can also view the California State Guidelines for Defensible Space (pdf) and the Ready Set Go campaign from Cal Fire.

Around residence:

  • Pine needles removed from the roof of all structures
  • Pine needles on the ground removed within 10 feet of all structures
  • Limbs must be removed from within 10 feet of the chimney
  • Chimney must have an approved spark arrestor
  • Ten feet of clearance required around the propane tank
  • Firewood and lumber must be stacked 30 feet away from the residence by law. However, firewood may be stacked next to or within 30 feet of a structure if it is completely covered with a high quality tarp. Old, unused or decomposed (nuisance) firewood must be removed. Firewood rounds cannot be left on the property. The wood must be split and stacked neatly.  Wood may not be stacked on a vacant lot.
  • The address of the residence must be clearly visible.

100-feet or to property line:

  • All dry, flammable vegetation and woody debris between 1/2 inch and 12 inches in diameter removed
  • Dead and/or beetle infested trees removed
  • Areas of contiguous brush broken-up
  • Excessively dense tree cover thinned
  • Remove the lower branches, six feet from the ground, on trees over 12 feet tall. On shorter trees remove the lower branches to 1/2 the height of the tree.
  • All dead plants or grasses cut to a height of six inches or less

The Tahoe Donner Defensible Space Inspection Schedule is as follows:

2012 All of Unit #1, lots 1 – 499 499
 Unit #5, lots 1 – 229 and 386 – 415 268
 Total lots 767
 2013  Unit #5, lots 230 – 385 and 416 – 555 294
 Unit #4, lots 234 – 643 409
 Unit #8, lots 1 – 97 97
 Total lots 800
 2014  Unit #8, lots 98 – 608 510
Unit #2, lots 1 – 287 287
 Total lots 797
 2015  Unit #2, lots 288 – 423 135
 All of Unit #9, lots 1 – 654 654
 Total lots 789
 2016  Unit #7, lots 1 – 262 262
 All of Unit #10, lots 1 – 488 488
 Total lots 750
 2017  Unit #7, lots 263 – 356 93
 Unit #6, lots 1 – 640 640
 Total lots 733
 2018  Unit #4, lots 1 – 233 233
 All of Unit #11, lots 1 – 517 517
 Total lots 750
 2019  All of Unit #3, lots 1 – 549 549
 Total lots 549

Protecting the Forest

In addition to protecting your home, defensible space is also about improving the health of the forest to reduce the threat of fire. The forestry department works to create a healthy forest on the common areas of Tahoe Donner. This is done by:

  • Creating and maintaining fuel reduction zones in strategic areas
  • Removing brush and planting trees to establish a forest on the landscape
  • Masticating (mowing) brush from around trees to increase the growth of the forest, change the arrangement of fuels and remove ladder fuels (fuels which provide vertical continuity allowing fire to spread up into tree crowns)
  • Creating a mosaic of practices to lessen the impacts to the human eye and encourage different wildlife species
  • Thinning dense forest stands through commercial logging operations or by hand crews
  • Maintaining the seasonal road system in the western portion of Tahoe Donner to lessen erosion and allow access by firefighting crews

Defensible Space Inspection Forms

If you wish to schedule an appointment for a Forestry Department staff member to check for defensible space on your property and make improvement recommendations, contact the Forestry Department at (530) 587-9432. For a list of vendors who perform tree and brush removal services see our Business Directory.