Santa Cruz County residents creating defensible spaces around their homes are encouraged to sign up for free wood chipping services.

In preparation for wildfire season, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County is offering residents in high wildfire risk areas no-cost chipping services.

By hiring a chipping company to go to people’s homes, the district hopes to cut down fuel loads around the county before the hot and dry months arrive.

“Defensible space is the buffer you create between buildings and the vegetation that surrounds them to prevent structures from catching fire, either from direct flame contact or radiant heat,” reads the district’s website. “Creating ample buffer zones not only increases the chances of your home surviving a fire on its own, but it also gives firefighters a safer location from which to defend your home.”

All chipped materials must be from vegetation cleared within 100 feet of residents’ homes, or within 15 feet on a private road. The chipping program does not remove chips off the property.

Sign-ups are available on a first-come-first served basis at the district’s webpage and must be submitted no later than April 30. Chipping will take place between May 8 and 19.