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San Diego Urban Corps Helps Clear Brush, Create Defensible Space

Urban Corps workers clearing brush at the edge of Mazanita Canyon in San Diego on Aug. 6, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Urban Corps workers clearing brush at the edge of Mazanita Canyon in San Diego on Aug. 6, 2020.

The San Diego Urban Corps is helping clear overgrown brush in San Diego’s urban canyons.

Lucile Cheng, 94, worried about the fire risk to her home on the edge of Manzanita Canyon in the City Heights neighborhood.

The brush clearing operation at her house took a load off her mind.

“We can still have fires,” Cheng said. “But I just know that it can’t come that close to my house now because my brush is cleared.”

San Diego Urban Corps Helps Clear Brush, Create Defensible Space
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Cheng has paid a lot of money to clear her yard in past years and she admits she’s been cited when the work didn’t get done.

San Diego Urban Corps Helps Clear Brush, Create Defensible Space

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The thick brush can fuel fast-moving wildfires and that endangers houses when the brush comes right up to the backdoor.

“It’s not always easy to create this defensible space. And that’s why our crews are just awesome,” said Daniel Johnson of the Urban Corps.

The members of the corps are between the ages of 18 and 26 and this work gives them a job in a difficult economic climate.

The work itself is not easy.

“We are looking to remove any extra brush,” Johnson said. “Any excess plant life that isn’t a specialty plant or anything like that. Any kind of excess flammable material we’re removing to create defensible space.”

Johnson said much of the heavy lifting got done in the morning before the heat of the day set in.