As we start to see and feel the change in the seasons, it is time to prepare for the potential wildfire season. April showers bring May flowers, time to take off the snow tires and get out the rake!

While a wet March helped get us to refill the lake and salvage the ski season, it only supplied the state with nearly 50 percent of normal for the yearly snow pack. Despite the wet spring, the entire region has a substantial precipitation deficit.

It is expected that the live fuels in our area will peak out at lower than average live fuel moisture reading and decline sooner than normal, reaching critical values for wildfire activity earlier than most years.

The June forecasted weather is for dry and warm conditions, therefore it is expected that fire activity will ramp up, and this represents an earlier start than average by a few weeks. For more fire weather forecast information, visit the Northern California Geographic Coordination Center website at

The local fire departments rely on the homeowners and the public to help prevent life and property losses from wildland fires. We accomplish this through public cooperation and enforcement of California's defensible space laws. The local fire departments will be out doing defensible space inspections early this year, and we encourage you to do your yard clean up sooner than later!

These laws are designed to help firefighters protect your home during a wildland fire and most importantly, help your home stand alone when firefighting resources are limited. For more information on defensible space visit the Ready for Wildfire website at

For those landowners of vacant lots, Placer County has enacted a "Hazardous Vegetation Abatement on Unimproved Parcels" program. The purpose of the program is to ensure that the owners of these lots do their part in hazardous vegetation abatement. The ordinance (Placer County Code Chapter 9, Article 9.32, Part 4) allows the County of Placer to authorize the abatement. The code can be viewed at

The Eastern Regional Landfill works with all the local agencies with Community Green Waste Drop Off Events, and some of the fire districts offer a chipping program. Contact your local fire department to find more info for your area. If you are taking down adult sized trees, keep in mind that you may be required to obtain a permit from the county your home is in and, if you live in the Tahoe Basin, from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and/or your local fire department.

Our goal is to keep our community lean, clean and green! We want to increase public awareness so that we have another fun, smoke-free summer. So, please get your properties in compliance early this year and maintain it until the fall moisture arrives.

Allen Riley is the fire chief at the Squaw Valley Fire Department.