California State Parks is undertaking prescribed burns at Año Nuevo State Park and Wilder Ranch State Park from Nov. 19 through Nov. 25, to restore the health of the grassland.
These activities are part of the program of using fire to manage vegetation, reduce hazardous fuel load and improve wildlife habitat. Fire removes thatch, restores essential nutrients to the soil, and reduces the chance of a catastrophic wildfire, according to State Parks officials.
At Año Nuevo State Park, a 145-acre burn is taking place on the ocean side of Highway 1. Whitehouse Creek Trail from Highway 1 to the beach access will be closed during burning operations.
At Wilder Ranch State Park, several different grassland habitats are planned for burning. Some trails will be closed temporarily to ensure public safety.
These burns are permitted, planned and coordinated with the Monterey Bay Air Quality Management District and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to minimize the smoke impacts on surrounding communities.
All burning depends on weather and air quality conditions favorable for smoke dispersal, according to State Parks officials, noting that if the conditions are not conducive for burning, the burns will be rescheduled.
People around the Monterey Bay area as well as those driving on Highway 1 may see smoke on the day of the burns. If you smell smoke, Santa Cruz County officials urge you to take precautions and use common sense to reduce any harmful health effects by limiting outdoor activities.
Prescribed burns produce significantly less smoke than wildfire, according to State Park officials who advise extreme caution while driving near prescribed fire operations due to fire personnel and equipment in the area.
If you see or smell smoke in your surroundings, officials recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and remaining indoors as much as possible. These precautions are especially important for children, the elderly and people with respiratory and heart conditions.
Personnel participating in the project will adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines to minimize exposure to and the spread of COVID-19. California State Parks is adhering to the safety protocols set by public health officials and have made accommodations to limit exposure among first responders and field crews to protect staff from COVID-19 during prescribed burns.
For information and updates, visit California State Parks Santa Cruz Fire Management Facebook page.