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Prescribed Burns Planned for Fall 2002

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Date: September 23, 2002
Contact: Jennifer Chapman, 415-464-5133

Point Reyes National Seashore will begin conducting a series of prescribed fires this fall as weather conditions allow. The controlled burns planned for this year are located in Beebe Ranch in Olema; two areas along Highway One; the Estero trailhead area; and an area along the Bolinas Ridge Trail.

The Beebe Ranch burn unit is 26 acres along Sir Francis Drake Blvd, near the intersection with Highway One in Olema. This will be the first burn and is scheduled for the week of September 30th. The goal of the Beebe burn is to reduce the fuel build up caused by the accumulation of grasses which die and regenerate annually. This will create a roadside safety zone along Sir Francis Drake and protection for the town of Olema. Many wildfires in the past have been started along roads, often caused by automobile sparks or unextinguished cigarettes.

The Highway One burn units are Strain Hill, 115 acres and McCurdy, 76 acres. These burns will also reduce fuel build up along Highway One to reduce wildfire hazards. The fuels at Strain Hill and McCurdy include non-native Scotch broom in addition to grasses and other shrubs.

The Estero burn units are located along both sides of the Estero Road on the McDonald and Murphy ranches, as well as the west side of Sir Fancis Drake Blvd. on the Rogers ranch. There are eight burn units totaling 423 acres in size. The goal of these burns is to eliminate non-native Scotch broom. The Estero burns are part of a research project to learn what temperatures are optimum for killing broom plants and their seeds. The Bolinas Ridge burn units are part of another study to determine the effects of fire on velvet grass. Velvet grass is an invasive non-native grass that is becoming an increasing problem in Washington, Oregon and California. The Bolinas Ridge burn units are the smallest, totaling 3 acres in size.

In addition to reducing fire hazards, and controlling non-native species, prescribed fire also provides other ecological benefits such as the recycling of soil nutrients and improved wildlife habitat.

To complete this prescribed fire program, National Park Service fire personnel will be working in cooperation with other local fire agencies, including Marin County Fire Department, and Inverness Volunteer Fire Department.

Burning will only be conducted if wind, air quality, and weather conditions are within appropriate guidelines.

Current information on the burn schedule will be posted in post offices at Olema, Point Reyes Station, Inverness, and Bolinas, as well as the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Fog-filled valley with yellow twilight glow over a ridge in the background. © John B. Weller.

The rich, lush environment of Point Reyes heavily depends on the fog. During rainless summers, fog can account for 1/3 of the ecosystem's water input. But recent studies have indicated that there has been about a 30 percent reduction in fog during the last 100 years here in coastal California. More...