Redwood National and State Parks will conduct a series of prescribed burns this fall in the prairies and oak woodlands of the Bald Hills east of Orick, Calif. The prescribed fire season in the parks generally begins in late September or as weather conditions permit. The first scheduled burn date for the Bald Hills area is Tuesday, Sept. 25.
This year fire will be used as a management tool in seven specific burn units in the Bald Hills: Upper and Lower Airstrip, Lower Airstrip Expansion, Wooden Gate, Upper and Lower Counts and Lower Dolason. All seven units combined total approximately 960 acres.
If you are in the parks over the next couple of 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 be cautious for your safety, as well as for those working on the prescribed burns. To see videos of past burns and learn more about prescribed fire as a management tool, visit the RNSP website “fire videos” page at:
For thousands of years, Yurok, Tolowa, Chilula, and Hupa people managed prairies and oak woodlands, and some coastal areas that are now within the parks with periodic fire to keep them open. 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 like 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.
The park’s 2015 Fire Management Plan provides for the use of fire to restore natural and cultural processes, manage exotic plants and conifers encroaching into prairie and oak woodland plant communities, and to interpret and educate the public about the role of fire in the parks. The parks have successfully used prescribed fires to achieve these objectives since the early 1980’s.
For further information about the prescribed fire program, please contact Rick Young at (707) 465-7732. For more information about Redwood National and State Parks, stop by park visitor centers open seven days a week. Information can also be obtained by visiting the RNSP website at: www.nps.gov/redw