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California State Parks Updates Prescribed Fire Operations for Wilder Ranch State Park
October 19, 2023

California State Parks has begun prescribed burns at Wilder Ranch State Park (Santa Cruz County). The fire is still burning and is being actively monitored by firefighters. So far, 177 acres of grass has burned along with 62 acres of forest. There are 62 remaining acres left to burn within the plot. Currently, State Parks is not initiating ignitions but will continue when it is safe and there is predicted weather that will facilitate smoke dispersal.

At Wilder Ranch State Park, ignitions have begun but completion has been delayed due to poor air quality dispersal along with the high pressure (warm, still weather) that is currently impacting the area. The prescribed burn will be monitored and may be continuous as conditions permit for more than one week or until the rain extinguishes the burn plot. After the first wetting rain, ignitions will begin for a different treatment area. This additional burn will continue for up to one week as conditions permit. State Parks will burn roughly 300 acres of a variety of forest and grassland habitats. Some trails may be closed temporarily to ensure public safety, such as Englesmann Loop, Eucalyptus Loop, Old Cabin and Long Meadow Trail. Ignitions are scheduled to occur between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for all burns. Monitoring and patrol will continue for the next three weeks following ignitions or until the burns are put out by rain.

The burns are part of the prescribed fire program for vegetation management, hazardous fuel reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, and other ecological benefits. Treatments enhance the health of the forest by removing duff, leaf litter and fuel buildup, restores essential nutrients to the soil and reduces the chances of catastrophic wildfires.

The prescribed burn taking place at Wilder Ranch is permitted, planned and coordinated with the Monterey Bay Air Quality Management District and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in order to minimize the smoke impacts to surrounding communities. All burning depends on weather and air quality conditions that are favorable for smoke dispersal. If the conditions are not conducive for burning, the burns will be rescheduled.

Prescribed burns produce significantly less smoke than wildfire. Should the public see or smell smoke in their 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.

Previous prescribed burn at Wilder Ranch State Park
Previous prescribed burn at Wilder Ranch State Park