On March 13th, ACR’s Fire Ecology Program successfully conducted its planned pile burns for the year. The burns significantly reduced hazardous fuel loads near our southern property boundary, reducing wildfire risk, improving public safety, and preparing for a successful, low-intensity controlled burn in the future. During pre-burn preparation of the area, 30 young oak saplings were found within a patch of decadent coyote brush. In order to protect these saplings, the coyote brush was removed from the immediate vicinity of the saplings, and the decadent brush patch was burned amidst the piles. 

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We received notification from Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) early in the morning that the weather forecast would be in the absolute ideal range for conducting our pile burns. Fourteen personnel were on site to burn twenty prepared oak debris piles from recent sudden oak death in our woodlands. We began taking on-site weather data at 9:00 a.m. and our on-site measurements aligned with those forecasted by air quality. After a formal incident briefing, we began with a test-burn of one pile at 10:00 a.m. During this test-burn, smoke and fire behavior supported the forecasted ideal conditions, allowing us to continue to safely burn the remaining piles. We had a team dedicated to monitoring our weather and smoke constantly throughout the day until every last smoke was out. Our temperatures on site ranged from 60.4-69.8 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity 56-45.6%, winds from the south ranging from 1.1-3.1 mph. Our smoke lifted nicely and carried north and east where it readily dispersed. By 10:40 a.m., all ignitions were complete and by 11:00 a.m. only smoldering remained in the piles. At noon, we began actively putting out any remaining smokes and hot areas within our pile bases, and by 1:30 p.m. every last smoke and hot spot had been addressed and all pile bases were rendered cool. Sasha Berleman, ACR's fire ecologist, patrolled the unit until 5:00 p.m. to ensure no smokes or hot spots were missed, and none were found. Staff continued checking the unit regularly through the evening and the next day.

Monitoring after the fire event showed that 27 of the 30 oak saplings were scorched in the pile burn (90%). Monitoring will continue through the next year to track oak sapling survival post-fire.

Pile burns are just one way that our Fire Ecology Program is addressing ACR's longterm management of fuel loads on our preserves. Read more about our program > 

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ACR Fire Ecologist Sasha Berleman addresses the ground crew prior to the burns.