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Field Training: Fuels Treatments in the Urban Wildland Interface: Lessons learned from the San Mateo County Parks Project

Friday, October 27th, 2023, 10:00am-3:30pm

This training was an opportunity to learn about a collaborative forest health and fuel reduction project at Huddart and Wunderlich County Parks, in Silicon Valley’s wildland-urban interface (WUI). Participants increased their understanding of how San Mateo County Parks fuels reduction projects improve forest health and community wildfire resiliency in the urban wildland interface.

This field training focued on the collaboration between San Mateo County Parks, the San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD), and contractors including Auten Resource Consulting. This project was designed to maximize the co-benefits of fuel reduction, while applying treatments with an ecosystem-focused lens of reintroducing low-intensity disturbance into forest and shrubland landscapes in the parks. As one of the first and largest CalVTP projects approved and completed in the region, participants gained valuable lessons-learned from the project team as well as the importance of effective communication in a project of this size and scale to an urban and suburban communities.

Participants learned how the project’s success was ultimately contingent upon a diverse group of stakeholders relying on different yet complimentary skill sets to accomplish a common goal. We heard from subject-matter experts from San Mateo County Parks, the San Mateo RCD, and Auten Resource Consulting and learned about areas for improvement across all phases of the project. This was an opportunity for community members and neighbors to learn more about how this project is increasing the pace and scale of fuels treatments in the area. 

Time Item


Workshop begins

Upper Alambique


David Cowman: Project Overview & Introductions

  Shelby Kranich: Project Design
  Evan Cole: Environmental Constraints
  Shelby Kranich: Landscape Access Constraints
  David Cowman: Temperature/Weather Impacts


Evan Cole: Defensible Locations

  Bear Gulch Meadow
  Shelby Kranich: Archeological Findings 
  Evan Cole: Communication and Protection Efforts


David Cowman: Key Habitat Features

  Hannah Ormshaw: Maintenance Challenges and Community Involvement
1:30pm Lunch: Oak Meadow Picnic Site
  Hike to Chaparral
  Hannah Ormshaw and David Cowman: Regional Fire Resiliency
3:30pm Field Training Ends


Hannah Ormshaw, Assistant Parks Director, San Mateo County Parks

Hannah Ormshaw is the Assistant Director for the San Mateo County Parks Department. She has worked for the parks department for over five years, and has an academic and professional background as a geographer & ecologist. Her work for the Parks Department includes overseeing parks capital improvement and visitor serving projects, community engagement and outreach, natural resource management, and park planning.

David Cowman, Forest Ecologist, San Mateo Resource Conservation District

David Cowman is a Forest Ecologist with the San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD). Before joining the RCD, David spent five years with California State Parks in the Santa Cruz district in the natural resource management program. He joined the RCD in October of 2020, following the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. David holds a bachelor's degree from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Science degree from San Jose State, where he studied the effects of prescribed fire on old-growth coast redwood stands in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. He finalized his research in the park in May of 2020, a few months before responding to the CZU fire there, in August of that same year. Presently, as the forest ecologist for the RCD, David helps to plan, permit, and manage large-scale forest health projects throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains and greater central coast, for both public and private land managers. He has significant experience in prescribed fire, forest ecology, forest and wildfire resiliency, as well as managing all phases of large-scale forest management projects.  This includes navigating complex regulatory systems, managing budgets and contracts, performing and coordinating wildlife surveys, and on-the-ground management of contractors.

Shelby Kranich, Senior Associate Forester, Auten Resource Consulting

Shelby Kranich, a Senior Associate Forester for ARC Forestry, graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry concentrating in Wildland Fire and Fuels Management. Ms. Kranich was born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and spent several summers in college working on the steep forested terrain of the Santa Cruz Mountains conducting field work and planning for all aspects of forestry. Much of her college forestry experience consisted of collecting data for the assessment of tree mortality following the 2009 Lockheed Fire.

Ms. Kranich began working for ARC in June 2020 and since has developed a wide skillset developing and permitting some of the largest forest health and fuels reduction projects completed in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ms. Kranich operates as a project lead developing, permitting, and supporting large scale CalVTP PSAs in the Santa Cruz Mountains including contractor and permit compliance. Ms. Kranich also specializes in field verification, layout, GIS, vegetation mapping, forest measurements, agency negotiations, surveys for cultural and historic resources, and a wide array of permit development.

Evan Cole, Natural Resource Manager, San Mateo County Parks

Evan Cole is the Natural Resource Manager for the San Mateo County Parks Department. He has worked for the Parks Department for over three years, and has previously worked as a wildlife biologist in federal and local government, private consulting, and the nonprofit sector. He holds an M.S. in Environmental Management and has published works on the responses of wildlife and vegetation communities to climate change in alpine ecosystems. His work for the Parks Department includes leading the Natural Resource Management Division, supervising a team of biologists and arborists, and overseeing invasive species management, wildlife monitoring, and fuels reduction projects.

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