Fall Prescribed Burn Activities in the Bald Hills

Fire crews conduct a prescribed burn in Redwood National and State Parks. [Photo posted last year by the Redwood National and State Parks]

Redwood National and State Parks Press Release:

Redwood National and State Parks plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns this fall in the prairies and oak forests of the Bald Hills east of Orick, California. The prescribed fire season in the parks begins in late September or early October, depending on weather conditions.

This year, fire will be used as a management tool in four specific burn units in the Bald Hills: Coyote, Child’s Hill, Lower Elk Camp and South Boundary. The four units combined represent approximately 1,950 acres.

For thousands of years, the Yurok, Tolowa, Chilula and Hupa peoples have managed the grasslands, oak forests and some coastal areas that are now in parks with periodic fires to keep them open. Intentional burning provided grazing and hunting areas for elk and deer, maintained important resources like tanoaks and various basketry materials, kept trails and travel corridors open, and decreased the prevalence of pests like ticks in the prairies. Early European Americans who later ranched these same lands continued the practice of broadcast burning until it was outlawed by the state in the 1930s. Since then, many grasslands and oak forests have been invaded by Douglas fir and other conifers which may eventually eliminate these important plant communities.

The park’s 2021 Fire Management Plan calls for the use of fire to restore natural and cultural processes, manage exotic plants and conifers that encroach on grassland and oak forest plant communities, and to educate the public about the role of fire in parks. Parks have successfully used prescribed burns to achieve these goals since the early 1980s.

If you’re at the parks in the next two months, there will likely be additional activities and amenities on and near Bald Hills Rd. Smoke may linger on the roads and traffic control may be in place. Use caution for your safety and that of fire crews working on prescribed burns.

For more information, please contact Bryan Boatman at (707) 496-0258.


Sally J. Minick