Scientists Say Cal Fire Plan to Rip Out Vegetation in San Diego County Might Exacerbate Fire Risk

Black mustard plants are seen in Griffith Park on May 28, 2019, in Los Angele. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Black mustard plants are seen in Griffith Park on May 28, 2019, in Los Angele. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Highly flammable nonnative plants have increasingly played a major role in Southern California’s struggles with wildfire — providing kindling along roadsides and around homes that turns sparks into menacing backcountry blazes.

San Diego County firefighting officials plan to dramatically ramp up efforts to rip out vegetation, both native and invasive, surrounding remote communities as part of a statewide campaign to prevent tragedies such as the Camp fire in Paradise, Calif.

However, environmental groups and scientists are now warning that brush removal projects may actually exacerbate the risk of fire by inadvertently helping to spread invasive grasses such as black mustard, star thistle and ripgut grass.

San Diego County’s ambitious goal is to clear 5,000 acres a year using prescribed burns and chainsaws, while also ramping up maintenance of trails and remote roads accessed by firetrucks.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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