Prescribed Burns Planned at Seashore for Wildfire Protection and Resource Enhancement
Contact: Jennifer Chapman, 415-464-5133
Point Reyes National Seashore plans to ignite a prescribed burn on Wednesday, September 7. This will be the first of five prescribed burns scheduled this year, ranging from 30 acres to 115 acres in size. These prescribed burns are part of a strategy to create strategic fuelbreaks in the park that will make a wildfire easier to control if one should occur. These burns will also enhance natural resources at the Seashore, by helping to reduce populations of invasive, non-native plants. The first burn will be one of three scheduled for along Highway One in the Olema Valley. Another burn is scheduled for along Limantour Road. The fifth burn will be located near Drakes Beach.
Highway One, 221 acres – A combination of burning and mechanical thinning is done along Highway One to manage fuels in the Olema Valley. Highway One is a busy traffic corridor where the chance of vehicle related ignition is high. A series of small burns are routinely conducted along the road to maintain a grassland in between two heavily forested ridges. Without fire, most of the vegetation along Highway One would eventually develop into shrublands and Douglas-fir forest, resulting in higher fuel loads. The use of prescribed fire in these areas is also helping to reduce non-native French broom, an invasive plant, originally introduced as an ornamental. Three out of ten burn units established along Highway One between Olema and Bolinas will be part of this year’s burn rotation: Strain Hill, 115 acres; McCurdy, 76 acres, and Dogtown, 30 acres.
Limantour Road, 40 acres – A similar fuelbreak is being developed along Limantour Road through a series of small burns. This year, one 40-acre burn unit is scheduled for treatment. The objective of burning along Limantour Road is to keep the coyote brush low and widely spaced, in an early stage of development. As coyote brush matures it becomes more dense, and can grow as high as 10 feet tall, making it more difficult to control in a wildfire situation. Limanatour Road will be an important control line in managing a future wildfire if one should occur.
Drakes Beach, 65 acres – The Drakes Beach burn unit will be burned to prepare the site for seeding with California brome, a resilient native grass found in the project area. Pilot test seeding earlier this spring indicated this perennial grass will be able to establish on the site. Perennial grasses are less fire prone than annual grasses and provide better habitat for other native species. The unnaturally large amount of annual grasses currently on the site is a result of historic agricultural practices involving the use fertilizer. These annual grasses die each year, leaving a build up of dead grass mulch which increases the fuel load near historic structures on D Ranch and the Ken Patrick Visitor Center.
These prescribed burns will take place only if weather conditions allow. Burn dates will be confirmed in close coordination with weather forecasters and air quality managers. Wind, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure will be monitored to ensure safe and effective prescribed fire operations. As in the past, these burns will be conducted by Point Reyes Fire Management staff with the assistance of many partners including Marin County Fire Department, Inverness, Nicasio, and Stinson Beach Volunteer Fire Departments, Bolinas Fire Protection District, Marin Municipal Water District, and others.
For more information on Fire and Fuels Management at Point Reyes National Seashore, please visit www.nps.gov/pore/fire.