• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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  • Point Reyes Fire Management will be using heavy equipment on the Inverness Ridge Trail this week.

    A recreation advisory is in effect for hiking, horse riding, and biking along the Inverness Ridge Trail (aka Bayview Fire Road) during the week of September 14, 2014. Extra caution in this area is critical while work is in progress. More »

Fire Ecology

Post-fire Bishop pine forest on Inverness Ridge

Bishop pine regeneration at Point Reyes following the 1995 Vision Fire

Fire is one of the most important processes in shaping the ecosystems of the western United States. Fire recycles nutrients and increases diversity across the landscape. A wide variety of plants depend on fire to regenerate. Many animals, in turn, benefit from increased plant growth following fire.

Fire ecology is the study of fire as an ecosystem process. Fire affects and is affected by many aspects of the ecosystem including soil, water, air, vegetation and wildlife.

Fires can be studied as individual events or as repeated processes across the landscape. Fire regimes describe patterns of fire across a landscape. Important aspects of fire regimes include how frequently fires occur, how intense fires are, how large fires are and the season during which fires generally occur. It is important to recognize that fire regimes are variable across space and time. Pyrodiversity, which is the term for this variability in fire regimes, promotes biodiversity. Within Point Reyes National Seashore there are many different vegetation types, each adapted to a different fire regime.

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Did You Know?

Harbor Seal Pup, © Sue Van Der Wal

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are present in the waters of Point Reyes year round. Every spring, approximately 7,000 harbor seals, or 20% of the mainland California breeding population, haul out on the beaches of Point Reyes. Look for them in the esteros and in Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. More...