Last updated: Thursday, March 4, 2021
On Monday, August 17, 2020, lightning started a wildfire, which was named the 4-5 Fire, north of the junction of Woodward Valley Trail and the Coast Trail. On Tuesday, August 18, a second fire, initially named the 4-6 Fire and later renamed the Woodward Fire, was found nearby and, aided by gusty winds, quickly grew in size. By Friday, October 9, the Woodward Fire was 100% contained at 4,929 acres in size.
Ecologists consider the Woodward Fire to be ecologically beneficial because it had a mix of burn severity. That means it burned with high intensity in some places, and other places it burned lightly. This type of burn is in contrast with some of our larger, hotter fires that consume everything in its path.
We expect that fuels in the interior area of the fire will continue to burn until the park receives substantial rainfall. The fuels that continue to burn are large tree trunks, stump holes, and other areas with smoldering fuels that are very difficult to access. These areas may occasionally produce light smoke, but are of no threat to the containment lines.
The park has closed areas that are within and close to the fire footprint. There are several reasons why this area is closed. First, the area has yet to be thoroughly assessed for hazard trees. These are trees that have been burned and pose a falling threat to hikers. Second, trails have yet to be completely cleared of debris and rehabilitated. Park staff are currently working to repair trails and fix drainage structures on the trails within the burn area. These repairs leave fresh disturbed soils on the trails with minimal compaction. Any foot, bicycle, or equestrian traffic at this time damages—or can even destroy—these newly rebuilt drainage structures. Natural wetting and drying out of the soil will give us the compaction we need for long-term durability, but the soils need to remain undisturbed after park staff finish their work so that natural compaction process can happen. We ask for your patience as we work to improve the trails within the Woodward Fire zone.
The park remains hopeful that the closed area will be opened to the public this spring. That is, if hazard trees have been removed and the hiking trails are safe for travel and have sufficiently hardened.
Safety reminder: Park visitors and area residents are asked to be mindful of park closures that remain in effect. While it might not look dangerous, if you were to go into a closed area, and something were to happen to you and you required assistance, everyone entering the area to assist you might be put in harm's way. Thank you for your continued patience during this extraordinary time!
Updates about the Woodward Fire were posted on Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook and Twitter pages, InciWeb's Woodward Fire Information page, and on the Marin County Fire Department's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, as well as on this page.
Check out the Woodward Fire Photo Gallery further down this page.
Areas closed to all visitors due to the Woodward Fire.
Most of the area and most trails south of Limantour Road and Bear Valley Road, west of Bear Valley Access Road and Rift Zone Trail, and north of Stewart Trail are closed to all visitor access until further notice. (Exceptions are listed below.) These areas and trails include, but are not limited to:
Visitors are welcome to walk southeast on Limantour Beach. Be aware that all areas above the beach's vegetation line from Coast Campground to Wildcat Campground are closed to all access until further notice, including Sculptured Beach Trail, Kelham Beach Trail, and Kelham Beach.
The following roads and trails south of Limantour Road and Bear Valley Road, west of Bear Valley Access Road and Rift Zone Trail, and north of Stewart Trail are open:
On Friday, October 23, 2020, the Bear Valley parking lot, Bear Valley Picnic Area, the Earthquake Trail, and the Rift Zone Trail were reopened, as were Limantour Road, Limantour Beach, and the trails to the north and west of Limantour Road.
On Saturday, February 6, 2021, the Laguna Road and the trails or sections of trails listed in the Exceptions section immediately above were reopened.
Respect the Closures
Fire-related activity continues. Hazardous conditions exist. Conditions can change rapidly. Please visit these areas of Point Reyes National Seashore at a later, safer time in the future.
Download a map indicating the areas and trails that are closed until further notice due to the Woodward Fire. (4,145 KB PDF)
The Natural Laboratory Podcast
The Natural Laboratory is a series of podcasts produced by Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center Science Communication Interns, with support from Point Reyes National Seashore Association, exploring science from Bay Area National Parks. In "The Legacy of Fire at Point Reyes," Science Communication Intern Jerimiah Oetting dives into how the Woodward fire compares to its predecessor, the 1995 Vision fire. He also explores how climate change and fire suppression drive the increasing intensity of wildfire in the West. In "New Growth," Jerimiah speaks with fire ecologists and botanists about what that recovery will look like in the coming months and years, and what we can learn from Indigenous practices of managing the landscape with fire. In "How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires," Jerimiah speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires.
NBC Bay Area: Point Reyes Climate Hotspot: Climate Change Lengthens Wildfire Season (2 minutes 46 seconds) - January 28, 2021
Public Fire Information
An interactive fire map for the Woodward Fire is available displaying evacuation warning areas, fire perimeter, satellite based thermal imagery, and other features. More features are in the works and will be added as they are finished.
Woodward Fire Boundary Maps
After Sunday, September 6, 2020, the Woodward Fire Boundary Maps will no longer be updated daily, only as needed going forward.
Evacuation Orders and Warnings
All Evacuation Warnings have been lifted as of 4 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
The Marin County Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with the Marin County Fire Department, lifted the remaining Evacuation Warnings in West Marin at 4 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Earlier Evacuation Orders and Warnings That Have Been Lifted or Reduced
Disclaimer: Daily between 8 am and 4:30 pm, park website authors will update the alerts above with any new information that becomes available. After 4:30 pm and before 8 am, visit the Marin County Sheriff's Office's Nixle page to check whether any alerts pertaining to the Woodward Fire have been posted while park website authors are off-duty, as well as for additional emergency alerts that are in effect in Marin County. Park website authors will add any alerts that are issued overnight when they return to work at 8 am each morning.
Visit FIRESafe MARIN's Wildfire Evacuation Preparedness page to learn how to register to receive evacuation notices & fire information, to learn the difference between Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders, tips on how to harden your home and create defensible space, and how to prepare to evacuate.
Webinar: Evacuation & Warnings – How To Survive a Wildfire
On Tuesday, August 25, FIRESafe Marin hosed a webinar entitled "Webinar: Evacuation & Warnings – How To Survive a Wildfire" featuring Central Marin Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Lando and 2018 Camp Fire evacuee and survivor Dr. Shannamar Dewey. A recording of the webinar is available of FIRESafe Marin's YouTube Channel.
With the transition of incident management for the fire from the Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 to the Great Basin Incident Management Team 4, information will still come from the National Seashore's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Status update briefings in the morning also transitioned to Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook page and will continue to be on Zoom.
Woodward Fire status briefing: every other day at ~9:30 am
Beginning on Thursday, September 10, 2020, Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 Press Briefings will be offered every other day (i.e., Saturday, September 12; Monday, September 14; Wednesday, September 16) through Wednesday, September 16.
ASL and captioning available on all platforms, Spanish interpretation available on Zoom. Each day, English recordings are posted to YouTube and Facebook, and Spanish recordings are posted to YouTube.
ASL y subtítulos disponibles en todas las plataformas, interpretación en español disponible en Zoom. Cada día se publican grabaciones en inglés y español en YouTube y Facebook, y en español en YouTube.
Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 Press Briefings
View the Great Basin IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 Press Briefings
View the Northern Rockies National IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
North Bay Incident Management Team Press Briefings
From Wednesday, August 19, 2020, through Sunday, August 23, 2020, the Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held press briefings about the Woodward Fire. Press briefings were live streamed on Marin County Fire Department's Facebook page. View the North Bay IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
The Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held a digital town hall on Saturday, August 22, 2020. The public were invited to submit questions in advance for park and fire officials to answer. The recording of the town hall is available on Facebook in only English and on YouTube in both English and Español.
We continue to receive generous donation offers and truly appreciate all of them. However, in order to keep all of our firefighters safe from potential exposure to COVID-19, we are not able to accept items from the community. If you would like to show support, please post "thank you" signs along roadways and in the community where the firefighters will see them. You may also consider making a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or a local charity.
Glossary of Wildland Fire Terms
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) maintains a glossary of more commonly used wildland fire terms on their InciWeb site, as well as a more comprehensive glossary that provides the wildland fire community a single source for wildland fire and incident management terminology commonly used by the NWCG and its subgroups.
Last updated: March 5, 2021