Wildland Fire: Pine Thinning Extends Fuel Break at Point Reyes

Crew members, wearing hard hats and orange vests, carry trees out from the forested area adjoining a road.
Conservation corps crew members cutting and hauling young bishop pine trees at Point Reyes National Seashore.

NPS / J. Chapman

During February 2012, dense thickets of young Bishop pine were removed along Limantour Road in Point Reyes National Seashore between the Sky Trail and Bayview Trail parking areas. The trees were cleared and thinned for 30 feet on either side of the road under a cooperative agreement with a local conservation corps. This project is part of the Limantour fuel break.

The fuel break begins four miles away near Limantour Beach with a series of prescribed burn units in coastal scrub, progressing upslope to the east along Limantour Road. The recent roadside thinning treatments extend the fuel break into the next section where the vegetation has transitioned to Bishop pine. Roughly 10 percent of the Bishop pine section has been treated so far.

Thinning of the Bishop pine is needed to improve emergency access and egress during a wildfire along this major park corridor. The highly flammable immature pine is at an extremely hazardous stage of its development since flourishing after the Vision fire in 1995. Without treatment, both firefighter and public safety would be greatly threatened by driving this route during a wildfire. Limantour Road is the only evacuation route for hundreds of visitors on a typical day. It provides vehicles one way in and one way out, serving Limantour Beach, the Point Reyes Hostel, the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center, multiple trailheads, and two backcountry campgrounds. It also continues egress for residents on Inverness Ridge who are using the Bayview Fire Road for evacuation. Bishop pine thinning will continue along Limantour Road in 2013.

Contact: Jennifer Chapman, fire communication and education specialist
Email: e-mail us
Phone: (415) 464-5133