This year the weather has been so unpredictable. It’s hot in December, no sign of snow or rain. Then seemingly overnight, winter comes on fast and ferocious, with snow at extremely low elevations and what seems like endless rain. And all of that water will mean that things will be green in El Dorado County this summer. Lush and thick and when fall comes again, that growth will turn brown and present your home and property with fuel for an out-of-control wild fire.
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If you are anything like me and my husband, you’ll spend at least one day a week this summer, limbing trees, raking pine needles or lopping deer brush. And you’ll crawl back up to the house seeking out a bottle of Advil and swearing that you are moving to the city where the neighborhood is taken care of by city workers or a hired gardener.
Before you rent the U-Haul and put the house on the market, take a few minutes to talk with Crystal and Joe Garrett of Garrett Forest Management. Years before they decided to make forest maintenance their business, Joe worked as a mechanical wild land firefighter. He learned how to create a defensible space as well as manage the forest floor by masticating the debris and leaving it to enrich the forest floor.
Both Crystal and Joe grew up in El Dorado County, went to El Dorado High.
“It’s true,” said Crystal, “I married my high school sweetheart,” she laughs. Now in their early 30s, the two share their life with their young son Clayton.
After those years spent working as a firefighter, Joe realized that his body was taking a beating. He took what he knew about mastication and he and a friend decided to begin their own business. They bought a tractor and then a CAT and as luck would have it, his business partner got offered a job with PG&E. Who could turn that down in this economy? So the couple bought out his share of the business.
“We run the business together,” Crystal says, “Most people are surprised at how much work Joe can get done in a couple of hours.”
They know that a lot of folks who live in rural EDC work hard for years trying to keep the undergrowth manageable and to maintain at least 100 feet of defensible space.
“They used to ask that you have at least 30 feet of defensible space around your home, but now its 100 feet.” Many of their jobs come from homeowners who have been told by their homeowners insurance providers that they need to have some work done before they can get insurance. It shouldn’t take an insurance company to remind you that wildfires happen and if you love your home and all the memories inside it, you need to take fire prevention seriously.
For many of us who move to this county from the flatlands, the thought of cutting firewood, raking and burning while blazing small footpaths through our piece of heaven sounds like the perfect way to spend some time. But I can tell you that after 30 years of doing that, it’s not all that glamorous.
Imagine hiring someone to come out and turn your acreage into the estate that you’ve always dreamed of. And maybe you are considering selling, but the land around your home is so overgrown it’s hard to see the house. An investment in having Garrett Forest Management come out could bring out the real value in your home.
“We can handle wood up to 10” in diameter,” Crystal went on. “If the landowner has bigger trees, we have a grappler and can cut it into logs so that they can be used as firewood.”
She explaines that the smaller branches and trees are masticated (chewed up) and returned to the forest floor. Their equipment is low impact and environmentally safe and the end product is a park like setting.
That lower 40 you’ve been threatening to clean up could have the look of a members’ only campground in a day or two. The kids or grandkids will have their own forest, safe from dead trees that may fall or those impossible to remove tangled berry vines.
At this year’s El Dorado County Home and Garden Show the Garretts will be available to answer your questions regarding land management. A visit to their Website has pictures of neglected land that has been groomed by Garrett Forest Management. They will also show you their portfolio of properties that might have looked a lot like yours, but are now shining examples of what defensible space looks like.
“We hope to bring a piece of equipment,” says Crystal, who while having a son of their own, knows how much kids like to see large equipment.” If you need to have them come out and do a free analysis of your parcel, just ask. “Joe works very fast as long as the weather cooperates.”
For more information about Garrett Forest Management call 530-647-2517 or visit their Website at garrettforest.com. Let this be the year that your dreams regarding your land, come true.