Successful controlled burns in Sonoma Valley

June 25, 2019

Posted in: News Articles

Successful controlled burns in Sonoma Valley

On June 17, 2019 our Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative partner Sonoma County Regional Parks completed a 34-acre prescribed burn at the Sonoma Valley Regional Park. The burn area included portions of the Sonoma Developmental Center 3 and Curreri properties, which Ag + Open Space purchased in 2007 and 2014, respectively, and later transferred to Regional Parks as additions to Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Ag + Open Space holds conservation easements over both of these properties that ensure their permanent and ongoing protection, and we’re delighted to see the successful completion of the first prescribed burn on these properties since they became County-protected lands.

The burn was conducted by Cal Fire personnel, in order to reduce wildfire risk and enhance biodiversity within the park’s grasslands. Another of our Collaborative partners, Audubon Canyon Ranch, completed a similar prescribed burn directly across Highway 12 at their Bouverie Preserve on June 14, 2019. Together, these burns represent the first effort to reintroduce careful, controlled burning as a management tool and ecosystem process in the Sonoma Valley since the area burned in the 2017 Nuns Fire. Carefully timed springtime burning can be an effective tool for controlling invasive species like medusahead that, left unmanaged, will out-compete native grasses and wildflowers. Controlled burning was used for millennia by Native American tribes to reduce wildfire danger, encourage desirable plant species, and improve wildlife habitat, and our local ecosystems are well adapted to frequent, low-intensity fire and in many cases depend on it for health, resiliency, and continued biodiversity.

The Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative, an association of public and private conservation landowners, collectively manages approximately 18,000 acres of protected lands in the northern Sonoma Valley. Ag + Open Space is coordinating with these and other partners to implement meaningful, proactive vegetation and fuel management on a regional scale in order to maintain healthy, resilient landscapes and to complement efforts to keep our communities safe. We’re proud of our partners for safely and successfully completing these prescribed burns, and we look forward to our continued partnership on behalf of our beloved parks, preserves, and open spaces.