Point Reyes Headlands Winter Shuttle Bus System
On weekends & holidays, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is closed beyond the South Beach Road junction from 9 am to 5:30 pm during favorable weather conditions. Bus service to the Lighthouse & Chimney Rock is provided from Drakes Beach. More »
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 »
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 »
Vision Fire Anniversary Marks 10 Years of Dynamic Change
Contact: John A. Dell’Osso, 415-464-5135
Contact: Jennifer Chapman, 415-464-5133
The 1995 Vision Fire was a significant event in the landscape of Point Reyes National Seashore and the wildland-urban interface of West Marin. Like the vast majority of wildland fires recorded in the history of Marin County, and the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole, the Vision Fire was human-caused. The human dimensions of the Vision Fire are compelling. Under extreme fire conditions, there was not a single major injury, no fatalities, and 422 people were safely evacuated. Property losses were substantial with 48 structures lost, yet 28 structures were also saved within the fire perimeter. Equally compelling are the ecological aspects of the fire, beginning with the weather that shaped the entire event. The fire was a catalyst for dramatic changes in flora, fauna and habitat structure, and resulted in new discoveries about the ecosystems within the Seashore and surrounding areas.
The Vision Fire was started by an illegal campfire on state park land on the east slope of Mount Vision, and burned 12,354 acres from October 3-October 16, 1995. It is not known when a fire of this size last burned on the Point Reyes Peninsula. The last major wildfire, since the Seashore was established in 1962, was the Kelham Beach fire in June of 1976, which was started by campers in the southern wilderness area, and burned 325 acres on national park land in brush and Douglas fir forest before it was fully controlled. Prior to 1976, the last major fire was in 1927, which began as a structural fire on the west slope of Mount Vision and spread to the surrounding vegetation. Most of the hundreds of unplanned wildland fires in the Seashore and vicinity during the last century have been effectively suppressed at 10 acres or less, with a large number of them suppressed at less than 1 acre.
Meanwhile, fire scars in tree rings, and charcoal in sediment cores, suggest fire may have occurred as often as once every 10 years prior to the last century within the Seashore. This fire history is largely attributed to the use of fire as a land management tool by the Coast Miwok, and later settlers who have occupied the Point Reyes Peninsula. Evidence of past fire history, would also account for past accidental fires, during times when fire suppression capabilities were much less sophisticated than they are today. The significance of the Vision Fire, is that it occurred under natural weather conditions which surpassed the threshold of modern human control. The Vision Fire also provided the first opportunity to study the effects of fire throughout nearly all of the habitats that occur within the Seashore.
Always get a permit before making a campfire in any wildland or open space area.
Weather is a critical factor in determining the outcome of a fire.
Wildfire can potentially devastate both human and natural communities.
Northern spotted owls were not significantly impacted by the Vision Fire because they prefer south to southeast facing slopes, and the fire affected primarily west and north facing slopes. Mountain beavers were impacted in the burned area due to sudden loss of dense coastal scrub thickets which can take up to 20 years to develop. Fortunately, only 60% of their known habitat was burned in the fire. Approxoimately 98% of the population in the burned area did not survive.
Some areas are strategic for fire management.
Wildland fire is a catalyst for many processes which can enhance biodiversity and benefit the ecosystem.
These benefits of fire can inform the use of prescribed fire on a much smaller scale to achieve resource management objectives within Point Reyes National Seashore. Likewise, understanding the nature of extreme weather events during fire season, can help residents and land managers manage vegetation to reduce risk and negative impacts from wildland fire.
10 Year Anniversary Events
Saturday, October 1, 10 am-4 pm
Ed Mestre, Battalion Chief, Marin County Fire Department
Sunday, October 2, 1-4 pm
Visit the neighborhoods affected by the Vision Fire with foresters who prepared the community recovery plan. Includes a 10-year update on fire ecology, vegetation management, and safety improvements. This easy 2 mile hike, led by Tom Gaman, Ray Moritz, and Carol Rice, begins at the Bayview Trailhead. RSVP to Tom Gaman, 415-669-7100. Suggested donation to EAC, $20.
Sunday, October 2, 4-9 pm
Saturday, October 8, 7-9 pm
Saturday, October 15, 2-4 pm
Sarah Allen, Science Advisor, Point Reyes National Seashore
Additional information on the Vision Fire is available at www.nps.gov/pore/fire_visionfire.htm.
Did You Know?
The Endangered Species Act turned 40 on December 28, 2013. 99 percent of the plants and animals protected by the ESA have been saved from extinction, including the bald eagle, brown pelican, gray whale, and peregrine falcon, all of which can be seen at Point Reyes. More...