Alpine Road

Project Definition

The summer of 2015 saw a joint project with Santa Clara County FireSafe Council from funds awarded by PG&E to reduce the fuel load along a 3.3 mile section of Alpine Rd in San Mateo County from Skyline Blvd past State Park Blvd.  A fuel break up to 60ft wide (depending on the county roads easement) was performed by contractor crews.  Removal of dead trees and trees smaller than 4 inches in diameter, trimming of branches of larger trees up to a height of 10 feet as well as brush removal.  Such an effort clears the way for emergency egress and ingress along Alpine Rd to service the State Park Blvd area now to Portola Redwoods State Park, including the Middleton Tract community.

Project Completion Report

Date: September 23, 2015

To: Kirk Shearer, PG&E Rich Sampson, CalFire Andy Hubbs, CalFire Denise Enea, San Mateo Fire Safe Patty Ciesla, Santa Clara Fire Safe Council

From: Debra Born, SSFSC Project Manager

Re: Alpine Road/Portola State Park Road Shaded Fuel Break Project Completion

On behalf of the South Skyline Fire Safe Council (SSFSC) and Bay Area Tree Specialists (BATS) I am pleased to report the completion of understory vegetation clearing work to improve the shaded fuel break along upper Alpine Road and a portion of Portola State Park Road. This project improved access for firefighting equipment and personnel and egress for residents and visitors to this scenic area. Funding was provided by a PG&E master grant to the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council and subsequent award of $18K to the SSFSC for this project. SCCFSC maintained fiscal control.


Initially I met with Andy Hubbs of Cal Fire who made recommendations about priorities and effective techniques for creating a shaded fuel break. Subsequent conversations with San Mateo County Road Coastal Division supervisor Mark Marelich and Mid-Peninsula Open Space director Brian Malone established acceptable clearing methods and safety requirements. Residents of affected roads were alerted via South Skyline Association’s quarterly newsletter Skylines and by handing out a flyer to residents bordering the work. Finally, it should be noted I received much support and assistance from SSFSC members Eric Isaacson, Dick Schwind, and Sue and Dave Myrick throughout the course of this project.


SSFSC began planning this work in May 2015 following the award of the PG&E master grant. In mid-July BATS was selected to do the work and by late July the County issued the encroachment permit for the work. A purchase order was issued by SCFSC to BATS on August 4. Work commenced August 18 and was completed August 27.


Project scope was the entire 3.3 mile length of upper Alpine Road beginning at its intersection with Skyline Boulevard/Highway 35 to its intersection with Portola State Park Road including approximately .3 miles of the upper portion of Portola State Park Road. Total cleared area is approximately 8 acres, the majority of which is along Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space. The road right of way was cleared of ladder fuel to the degree possible given limitations presented by fencing and adjacent property owners. Clearing scope was to clear within 15 feet of the pavement edge on downhill slopes, within 10 feet of the edge on uphill slopes, and to maintain 16 feet clearance above the road surface.

Initially SSFSC planned to remove all dead trees within cleared area, however funding enabled us to remove only three dead trees and to prune the rest up to approximately 10 feet above ground surface. Nonetheless, our clearing coupled with shoulder mowing done by San Mateo County earlier in July made a significant safety improvement to these two roads.

Both roads are very narrow and curvy with mostly exceptionally steep terrain. Consequently in accordance with the San Mateo County encroachment permit requirements traffic controllers were a necessary part of the crew. BATS work required a total of 9 crew days with a crew size of approximately 8, including their two flaggers and supervisor.

The South Skyline Fire Safe Council provided volunteer project manager and field supervisors for every crew day. In addition SSFSC provided approximately 175 hours of planning and coordinating to determine project scope, to develop bidding and contract documents, and to oversee the actual work.


  1. Actual scope was less length than originally proposed due to funding limits.

  2. Very steep slopes and narrow, curvy roadways made work inefficient.

  3. The need for flaggers consumed a large percentage of the grant.

  4. The majority of the road has barbed wire fencing within the right-of-way. Much of the fencing is in disrepair, tangled in the brush and laying on the ground. This poorly maintained fencing limited the ability to clear to the full extent of our intended scope AND slowed work considerably.

  5. Two property owners did not want us to clear adjacent to their properties, which affected only a minor area.

  6. SSFSC will work to secure another more sizable grant in the near future to clear the remaining length of Portola State Park Road to ensure safer access and egress to residents and visitors to Portola State Park.


  1. Looking opposite entrance to upper Russian Ridge parking at Skyline

  2. Looking toward Skyline on Alpine from Russian Ridge open space preserve RR00 gate (upper parking lot)

  3. Looking south on Alpine opposite RR00 gate (Russian Ridge upper parking lot)

  4. Looking west on Alpine from entrance to RR00 gate (Russian Ridge upper parking lot)

  5. Looking east on Alpine from Russian Ridge lower trailhead

  6. Looking uphill on Alpine from lower Russian Ridge parking lot

  7. Looking uphill on Alpine towards lower Russian Ridge parking lot

  8. Looking downhill on Portola State Park Road near intersection with Alpine

  9. Looking downhill on Alpine Road near Skyline Ridge open space preserve SR09 gate

  10. Fallen trees on Alpine near Skyline Ridge open space preserve SR06 gate

  11. Men Working on Steep Hillside and Broken Fences with Right of Ways

Alpine Road Project.kml
mark haynie,
Oct 6, 2015, 12:58 PM
mark haynie,
Nov 2, 2015, 10:04 AM