During a recent fire hazard inspection a homeowner asked if they can clear vegetation and plants growing on either side of a stream that passes through their property. They were concerned with rumors that the County would fine people who did this. So they asked for our help in getting to the truth. This post summaries what we learned.
Speaking with the good folks at the Solano County of Public Works, they explained their role in keeping waterways and streams clear. Public Works takes responsibility for areas near or under bridges and roads. However, if a stream passes through your property, the County will not clear overgrown vegetation or flammable growth. Because it is on private property the County hopes and expects that the property owner will take care of this. This includes removing bushes, grasses, trees and such from either side of the stream, assuming both sides are on your property. There are no restrictions from doing so and no fines will be made because you are taking care of your property.
Above are a couple of pictures of a typical stream in GV overgrown with berry bushes, weeds, and other vegetation that become a fire hazard when they dry out. Yes, there actually is a stream under all that growth! In this case, the property owner will be clearing out his section of the stream and hauling the overgrowth away. Hopefully his good neighbors will join in the effort. Thank you neighbor!
There is a caveat to this. When you remove vegetation, you cannot toss it into the stream. You need to take this material away. This makes sense because if you toss it into the stream, you are only going to clog up the works downstream. Apparently the County sees this from time to time, especially after heavy rains like late last year. Also, you cannot toss in at any time materials such as chemicals, fertilizers and other nasty things into the stream as these will make their way into other bodies of water, killing fish, damaging native plants and causing a variety of issues. So there you have it. If you have a stream passing through your property, please proceed with responsibly clearing it, removing everything away from the water. You’ll receive the added benefit of reducing flooding by removing vegetation which could prevent the stream from flowing freely.
Hopefully this will be helpful to the surprising number of property owners in the District with streams flowing through their property.
Director Glen Langstaff