If you detect smoke coming from the area of Grove Street west of Carriger on Friday, June 4, don’t freak out — a controlled burn is planned for the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Carefully modernized and managed by Sonoma Ecology Center, the ancient technique makes way for native plant communities, and also helps protect against wildfires by removing excess flammable vegetation and managing invasive plants.
The event on the grounds of the 162-acre preserve on May 21 will be monitored by fire professionals and air quality agencies.
“We conducted a very successful controlled burn there last year and it helped eradicate some non-natives and allow for the natives to reclaim their space,” said the SEC’s Anne Ward.
One particularly pesky plant is Medusahead, an invasive grass that creates a thick layer of persistent, flammable thatch that smothers native grasses and wildflowers; it’s prickly, so cattle avoid it.
“The prescribed burn in 2020 (above) gave us a good start at reducing Medusahead and other invasives and this year’s burn will continue that fight.”
Sonoma Ecology Center has worked with the 162-acre Preserve’s landowners since 2004 to manage its meadows, grasslands, oak woodlands and riparian habitats.