For millennia, Sonoma County landscapes were shaped and maintained by Native American tribal burning practices and traditional knowledge. Over time, a resilient, low-intensity, fire-adapted ecosystem emerged. But in recent times, fire suppression and the exclusion of Indigenous groups from land management decisions have left us increasingly vulnerable to high-intensity wildfires.
A warming and drought-prone climate, excessive buildup of vegetation through fire suppression policies and increased residential development in the wildland-urban interface lead to more frequent high-intensity fires. These fires release large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere and threaten our native biodiversity and our lives, properties and well-being.
Working with the community, local government agencies, nonprofits and Indigenous tribes, we are restoring fire’s ecological role through ladder fuel reduction, forest thinning, shaded fuel breaks and controlled burns. These efforts will help mitigate the effects of climate change, promote ecosystem health and biodiversity, and improve the fire resilience and safety of all our communities.
Prescribed burns and vegetation management help reduce risks to life and property within the wildland-urban interface. We are working with the Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative on fuel reduction and prescribed burns on 300−400 acres in the communities of Oakmont, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Bennett Valley, Eldridge, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, Agua Caliente and Sonoma.
Accessible fire information for evaluating safety is crucial as wildfires threaten all of our communities. Lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by the economic and health impacts of wildfires. Through the Sonoma Valley Wildlands Collaborative website, and community meetings about fire preparedness and the role of ecologically beneficial fire, we are educating residents throughout the county.
“The question for our county is no longer whether land will burn, but how intensely. Sonoma Land Trust’s proactive management helps to ensure ecological health and resilience, and will help modulate the severity of future wildfires.”
Fire-conscious land management of our preserves and conservation easement properties will create healthier, more biodiverse and wildfire-resilient landscapes. We are working with communities, local government agencies, nonprofits and Indigenous tribes to increase defensible space, make buildings more resistant to fire, and reduce fire fuels across our land preserve system.