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

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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  • 2014 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Closures

    From March 1 through June 30, the park implements closures of certain Tomales Bay beaches and Drakes Estero to water-based recreation to protect harbor seals during the pupping season. Please avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. More »

  • 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus Operations Have Ended

    March 30, 2014, was the last day for the 2014 Winter Shuttle Bus System. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. is open daily from now through late December 2014. More »

  • Operational Changes Took Effect on May 1, 2013

    The Lighthouse Visitor Center is now only open Fridays through Mondays; closed Tuesdays through Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center is open on weekends and holidays when shuttles are operating. 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...