Prescribed fire training is underway with a list of properties prepped for good fire

Prescribed fire training is underway with a list of properties prepped for good fire

Upcoming prescribed burns at Martin Griffin Preserve in Stinson Beach may include visible smoke for up to a week at a time

November marked the beginning of North Bay TREX, a 10-week window of collaborative burning and training running through January 15, 2023. Our prescribed fire managers, volunteer member of the Good Fire Alliance, and staff from diverse conservation and land management organizations have been conducting burns and engaging in training throughout various ecosystems in the North Bay. Goals are specific to each location, and include the reduction and removal of dead vegetation, improving ecosystem health, and boosting resilience against wildfire.

Prescribed burning underway in the grasslands of Bouverie Preserve, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County. Photo: Claire McMurtry

Burning and training in oak woodlands and mixed evergreen forests

The event kicked-off at Bouverie Preserve, where 12 acres were burned to remove annual grass thatch to make space for native bunch grasses and wildflowers. Recent observations indicate that burning thatch after the first flush of green on annual grasses can add a competitive advantage for native plants. Before the prescribed burn got underway, the group practiced skills through training exercises focused on containment and suppression of simulated wildfire starts.

The crew also conducted burns at Sonoma Land Trust’s Glen Oaks Ranch and Oak Hill Farm in the Sonoma Valley, and Monan’s Rill in Northeast Santa Rosa.

Prescribed fire in the redwood understory at Land Paths’ Grove of Old Trees in Occidental, Sonoma County. Photo: Claire McMurtry

Good fire returned to redwood understory

Burning in a redwood ecosystem requires more people, time, and resources than a grassland burn, but it is especially impactful for forest resilience and reducing wildfire risk. The TREX crew was able to apply prescribed fire for the first time in decades to roughly six acres of Land Paths’ Grove of Old Trees redwood preserve near Occidental in Sonoma County. CAL FIRE, one of our partners on this burn, created this great video recap:

In coming weeks, the crew will bring fire to redwood understory at Martin Griffin Preserve on the Bolinas Lagoon as part of a decade-long plan for fire stewardship on the land. While this work is being done, area residents may experience smoke in the air for up to a week at a time. Fire management staff will be stationed on-site to monitor and patrol the area until all fire is out.

Importantly, because of variable weather windows, notification timelines for upcoming work are very short. You may hear of specific burning happening only a day or so in advance. When controlled burns are underway, our communications staff provide updates on the Watch Duty app, on Instagram at @fire.forward and @auduboncanyonranch. You can also search by hashtag, #NorthBayTREX22.

Funding from the Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative provided for light breakfast and packable meals for the crew. Photo: Claire McMurtry

Funding to help support the practice of prescribed fire

The Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative (Audubon Canyon Ranch is one of six members of the Collaborative) has generously provided funding to support the planning and implementation of this event, as well as provide participants with a stipend and some meals.