WRO Staff / Tuesday, Sept. 10 @ 3:58 p.m.

GOOD FIRE TIME! Parks Service Preparing For Prescribed Burns in the Bald Hills Area


Photo: Redwood National and State Parks.

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From Redwood State and National Parks:

The National Park Service will conduct a series of prescribed burns this fall in the prairies and oak woodlands of Redwood National and State Parks in the Bald Hills east of Orick. The prescribed fire season in the parks begins in late September or early October as weather conditions allow.

This year fire will be used as a management tool in eight specific burn units in the Bald Hills: Copper Creek, Williams, Upper Counts, Ganns, Childs, South Boundary, as well as Upper and Lower Lyons. All eight units combined total approximately 1,350 acres.

If you are in the parks during the next several months, there will likely be additional activity and equipment on and near Bald Hills Road. Smoke may linger on the roadways and traffic control may be in place. Please reduce driving speeds and be cautious for your safety as well as for those working on the prescribed burns.

Using fire for landscape health is not a new idea! For thousands of years, Yurok, Tolowa, Chilula, and Hupa people managed plant communities with fire, contributing to ecosystem health by reducing brush and encouraging new growth. Intentional burning provided grazing and hunting areas for elk and deer, maintained important resources like tanoak trees and various basket weaving materials, kept trail and travel corridors open, and lessened the prevalence of parasites, such as ticks, in the prairies. Early settlers who homesteaded the prairies continued the practice of broadcast burning until it was outlawed by the state in the 1930s. Since then, many of the prairies and oak woodlands have become encroached with Douglas fir and other conifers which can eventually eliminate these important plant communities.

It is a long-term goal for Redwood National and State Parks to restore park lands to the state that existed just prior to European-American contact and influence. Modern prescribed fire is a tool for controlling and eliminating exotic plant species, removing conifers encroaching on prairies and oak woodlands, increasing native plant diversity, and reducing dead and down materials that can fuel unnaturally intense wildfires. The National Park Service, as part of the Redwood Rivers Interagency Fire Management organization with Six Rivers National Forest, and California State Parks have successfully used prescribed fires to achieve these objectives since the early 1980s.

To experience first-hand what it is like to be on a prescribed fire crew and learn more about fire as a park management tool, check out the prescribed fire video page on the RNSP website at this link.

For further information about the upcoming fall season burns, please contact Rick Young at (707) 465-7732.

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