Mount Burdell Controlled Burn Gets Green Light for Today

Expect to see smoke on the mountain from 9 a.m. to about noon, fire officials say.

The on-again-off-again controlled burn on is a go for this morning.

Mike Giannini, a battalion chief with the Marin County Fire Department, said early Wednesday that it was confirmed that weather conditions and strike team personnel were just right so that a closely watched burn can take place from 9 a.m. to about noon today.

The Marin County Open Space District mailed postcards in late June to 300 property owners who live within 1,000 feet of the Mount Burdell Preserve informing them of a controlled burn the week of July 9, but the burn was postponed because of weather conditions.

Large signs have been posted at the trailheads with a map highlighting the area along the Cobblestone Fire Road above Hidden Lake to be burned. Crews have prepared the area with fire breaks.

Organizers say the fire should consume approximately two acres and that smoke will be seen for miles. The said it would assist.

The district, working in conjunction with the Marin County Fire Department, periodically conducts controlled burns in open spaces throughout Marin. 

Last year, a controlled burn in southern Novato prompted lots of 911 calls because people were unaware of the scheduled fire that residents many miles away could see high above the hills of Ignacio. People who live close to the burn sites receive a notice in the mail, but others need to hear about it from word of mouth or the media.

Why a controlled burn? Casual observers hiking along the Mount Burdell fire roads might not notice the difference between all the various grasses growing on the golden hills. The burn is focusing on areas where the non-native barbed goatgrass is proliferating in the dry serpentine soils above Hidden Lake on either side of the Cobblestone Fire Road.

The grazing cattle do not consume the barbed goatgrass and therefore it stands alone ready to take over the golden hillsides. Small patches of this grass are eradicated by controlled burns.

If left alone, the Universtiy of California Cooperative Extention mentions an entire pasture can be infected with the grass within three years. A prescribed burn is the cost effective and will efficiently manage the goatgrass population in this steep meadow area.

Keep your eye out for the smoke, and if you're a hiker be aware that you might not be allowed in your favorite area today.

Brent Ainsworth July 25, 2012 at 04:57 PM
If anyone watching this would like to post some photos to this story or email JPGs to brent.ainsworth@patch.com, I would love to share them with Patch readers.
Sue McQuinn July 25, 2012 at 09:00 PM
We hiked up Mt. Burdell today during the controlled burn. It was evident this was a very well organized effort by all participating fire departments. The smell of smoke was faint due to the updraft which was captured in the photos.


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