Steps to Creating Defensible Space

Download COUNTY OF SAN BERNARDINO Mountain Defensible Space Guidelines for Mountain Communities in San Bernardino County.  Lake Arrowhead, Arrowbear, Fawnskin, Green Valley Lake, Crestline, Blue Jay, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks.

Download BIG BEAR VALLEY Defensible Space Guidelines


  • Remove dead vegetation and small dead trees up to 15 feet in height. Taller trees should be removed by a professional.
  • Trim branches (live and dead):
    • For trees taller than 15 feet, remove lower branches to a height of 6 to 8 feet from the ground.
    • For trees less than 15 feet tall, remove live and dead branches within 3 to 4 feet of the ground.
    • Remove tree branches within 10 feet of a chimney opening.
    • Remove all dead branches that overhang a structure.
    • Prune and thin overgrown shrubs.
    • Remove all dead branches in shrubs.  See also the City of Big Bear Lake's "Native Brush and Shrub Ordinance".
    • Selectively thin live foliage.
  • Remove accumulated pine needles:
    • Remove pine needles and leaves in excess of 2 inches throughout the property.
    • Remove pine needles from roofs.
    • Cut grass and weeds greater than four inches tall.
    • Remove pine needles and leaves within 5 feet of any portion of a structure.
  • Selectively thin your native trees less than 6 inches in diameter:
    • Thin small dense native trees less than 6 inches in diameter which are within 6 to 8 feet of a larger native tree or other small trees.  For conformance with "Defensible Space Guidelines" under Public Resources Code 4291, the size of trees and the distance separation between trees may be more.  Check with your local fire department.
    • Selectively thin trees that are deformed, trees that are crooked, have damaged bark, dead tops or show evidence of disease or insect infestation.
    • Select trees that have grown next to buildings and/or pavement.
    • Select trees that are under power lines or along fences.

Homeowners can accomplish these requirements with a little muscle and sweat. Others may find it easier to hire someone to complete the work. Local businesses are available by checking the local telephone books or news sources including Internet sites.  Also check out the Business Directory located at the top of this page. 

We are here to help you through this process. If you have any questions concerning this information, or work that needs to be done, please contact:

Big Bear Fire at 909-878-3090