Field Notes

San Vicente Redwoods Prescribed Burn

As the glowing orange flames snaked through the understory beneath the twisted branches of live oak and madrone trees, more than 30 Cal Fire firefighters closely tended the line of the controlled six-acre burn. On this clear October day at the San Vicente Redwoods property, Sempervirens Fund, together with our partners Peninsula Open Space Trust, Cal Fire, and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, re-introduced fire to the landscape by conducting a prescribed burn. Fire plays a vital role in the ecosystem, enhancing growing conditions for evergreen and oak dominated forests, creating natural vegetation mosaics, and lowering the potential for future wildfires. This burn was special in that it provided an opportunity for members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to restore a traditional stewardship practice to the land. Members of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust’s Stewardship Corps are studying the native plant regeneration in response to the fire.

Amah Mutsun and CAL Fire at San Vicente Redwoods doing a controlled burn

Control burn at San Vicente Redwoods, in collaboration with Amah Mutsun Land Trust, POST and Cal Fire. Photo credit to Mike Kahn.

Planted Trees: Bringing New Life to the Forest

Each year, donations to this program provide a wonderful way to honor loved ones with a living connection to the landscape, and the collective impact on the restoration of our local redwood forest is significant. Each year, donations to this program provide essential support for tree planting projects throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. For instance, we recently contributed $5,600 of Planted Tree program donations to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Riparian Forest Enhancement Project. Through this project, we are helping restore rare habitat in an area of the Park that was taken over by non-native velvet grass and bull thistle. Donations to this program facilitated the site preparation, planting, and maintenance of 182 trees and allowed State Parks staff to bring new life to this diverse, native forest habitat.

Planting a redwood seedling.

Planting a redwood seedling. Photo by Ian Rowbotham.

Setting Our Sights on the Trail

Trail planning is underway at San Vicente Redwoods! With our partners at Peninsula Open Space Trust, Save the Redwoods League, and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, we are in the process of developing a robust, scientifically reviewed recreational trail plan for the 8,532-acre San Vicente Redwoods. Because we seek to provide a first-class recreational experience while having the least impact on the property’s multiple conservation values (sensitive wildlife habitat, rare plant occurrences, riparian zones, etc.), this trail planning takes time. We expect the first set of trails to open in 2019. Trails will be constructed and opened in several phases over many years, and carefully managed and monitored during this time in order to identify, address, and limit negative environmental impacts. Stay tuned!

Old access at Mill Creek

Old access road along Mill Creek. Photo by Ian Bornarth.


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This article was originally published in our Spring 2017 Mountain Echo Newsletter.