August 17, 2021
Over the last month we’ve been preparing to lead fire ecology walks in the park to share the impacts of fire on our park. Fire is a force of nature... one that can both destroy and regenerate. Today is the one year anniversary of the Woodward Fire at Point Reyes National Seashore. As I read through my notes to lead a fire hike on Sky Trail this morning, I thought of where I was a year ago. My swim journal recounts scrambling out of Tomales Bay as the remnants of Baja California Tropical Storm Fausto shifted northward and lit up the sky... an unusual event that caused us all to pause. 
Bringing more sparks than land quenching water, the lightning touched off what would eventually be named the Woodward Fire, just one of multiple wildfires in the Bay Area. Lightning also prompted PG&E to cut electricity to West Marin as a preventative fire measure, but to no avail. The Woodward flames would go on to burn almost 5,000 acres of the Seashore between the Bear Valley Visitor’s Center and Sculptured Beach. Layered on top of a global pandemic and the spotlighting of deep social injustice, the fire was another test of our resilience and optimism. 

Regeneration at Point Reyes
The headlines speak of preemptive power outages. The drought is even worse this year and the pandemic takes a new twist. Yet, there is regeneration. Over the summer we’ve reintroduced programs for kids, many of whom saw the ocean for the first time. Trails reopened, with more to follow. Scientific studies are underway, fueled by the Regeneration Funds raised at last year’s virtual Dinner on the Pacific Plate. 
So, I invite you to pause, take a look back. Join us on a fire ecology walk that combines our goals of conservation, education, and community building (details below). Revisit some of the touching images of the brave team of federal, county, and local agencies and individuals who worked so tirelessly to protect our park and community. Check out the story map for the many details of the Woodward Fire. Have a listen to our fire ecology podcasts.
Anniversaries help us remember, reflect, and move forward. I guess that’s the root of regeneration. Thank you for your support and a special thanks to our National Park Service colleagues who work tirelessly to care for this special land in good times and hard ones.
Donna Faure
Executive Director
Through last year’s virtual Dinner on the Pacific Plate program and beyond, we raised $110,948 in Regeneration funds to support post-fire science and education. Just as funding after the Vision Fire of 1995 was the source of new science programs at the park, the Woodward Fire is giving scientists a chance to study the effects (both positive and concerning) on the species and habitats in the burn area. Here's last year's virtual event, mid-way through is where you'll hear from the scientists on areas/species of concern as of October 2020.
Regeneration Funds Support
• Invasive Plant Monitoring and Suppression Repair
• Point Reyes Mountain Beaver Monitoring Program
• Songbird Monitoring Program
• Woodward Fire Photo Monitoring Project – A community science project to help document the visual data of revegetation and plant succession at sites within the park.
Learn more about the Woodward Fire by viewing the Woodward Fire StoryMap, created by Trisha Johnson, a GIS Analyst on the National Burned Area Emergency Response Team.
Our docents will lead several journeys through parts of the park most impacted by the fire: pointing out residual burn presence in certain habitats, explaining the importance of fire regrowth, describing Fire Management efforts within the park, and so much more! We are offering three hikes at various difficulty levels—easy, moderate, and strenuous—so please pick the walk that best fits your schedule and hiking comfort.
The Bear Valley hike is our easiest Fire Ecology Walk option—perfect for anyone looking for an easy stroll, at a comfortable pace that won’t eat up your entire day. The Bear Valley walk is expected to take 2 hours, cover 2.5 - 3 miles, and gain 285 feet of elevation. We will begin at the Bear Valley trailhead (adjacent to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, at the end of the parking lot) and make our way to the Divide Meadow, stopping along the way to notice, observe, and learn all about the Woodward Fire and its impacts to wildlife in this corridor. If you are looking for a more challenging hike, please consider the intermediate or challenge hike instead. 
Level 1 hikes: 10am - 12pm on Friday, 8/20, and Saturday, 8/28.  
The Sky Trail hike is our intermediate Fire Ecology Walk option—ideal for hikers who are looking for a short, heart-pumping hike, and who want to be immersed in the Woodward Fire burn area. The Sky Trail walk is expected to take 2.5 hours, cover 4.9 miles, and gain 683 feet of elevation. Although this hike’s terrain is primarily only slightly uphill and downhill, a steep 334 feet of elevation gain in the first 0.8 miles makes this a more challenging hike for those interested in a leisurely pace. We will begin at the Sky Trailhead Parking Lot and travel along the Sky Trail, past the Sky Campground, and through the fire zone stopping along the way to notice, observe, and learn all about the Woodward Fire and its impacts to wildlife in this corridor. If you are looking for an easier hike, please consider the Bear Valley fire walk. Likewise, if you’re interested in a more challenging hike, the Loop Trail fire walk might be perfect for you. 
Level 2 hikes: 10am - 12:30pm, Friday, 8/20, and Sunday, 8/29.
The Loop Trail hike is our most strenuous Fire Ecology Walk option—optimal for any athletic hikers who are enthusiastic about spending a day exploring the fire zone. The Loop trail walk is a difficult adventure, expected to take 4.5 hours, cover 6.95 miles, and gain 1,194 feet of elevation. We will begin at the Bear Valley trailhead (adjacent to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, at the end of the parking lot) and make our way up Meadow trail, from where we will take Sky trail to connect with the Old Pine trail, which will loop us back to the Bear Valley trailhead. The hike begins with a steep incline for the first 2.5 miles (grades of up to 20%), followed by rolling terrain, and approximately 3 miles of non-stop downhill. We encourage you to consider your comfort level prior to signing up for this walk. If you decide that a less-strenuous hike might be best for you, please consider our Bear Valley (easy) and Sky Trail (intermediate) fire walks as alternatives. 
Level 3 hike: 10am - 2:30pm, Sunday, 8/29.
The Natural Laboratory Podcasts
The Natural Laboratory The Natural Laboratory is a series of podcasts exploring science in Point Reyes National Seashore. The Woodward Fire series was produced by Point Reyes National Seashore Association in collaboration with the National Park Service.

In The Legacy of Fire at Point Reyes, Science Communication Intern Jerimiah Oetting dives into how the Woodward fire compares to its predecessor, the 1995 Vision fire. He also explores how climate change and fire suppression drive the increasing intensity of wildfire in the West.

In New Growth, Jerimiah speaks with fire ecologists and botanists about what that recovery will look like in the coming months and years, and what we can learn from Indigenous practices of managing the landscape with fire.

In How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires, Jerimiah speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires.

Click here to listen to these three podcasts.
Support our Work as a Sponsor
We are eagerly preparing for this year’s annual fundraiser, Picnic on the Pacific Plate.
To date, this annual event has raised more than $2 million over 11 years to support our conservation, education, and community-building work. With your sponsorship, our 2021 “picnic” will fund key conservation projects, bring more youth and families to discover Point Reyes, and allow for diverse voices to be heard and included.
Sponsorship levels and opportunities are listed below. Tickets go on sale in early September! Become a Sponsor Today.

We are still planning to convene in person this year, albeit in a modified format to ensure safety is our top priority. On October 9th, we will gather for guided excursions throughout the park followed by a picnic-themed cocktail reception featuring local food, drinks, and live music. We guarantee you will have an unforgettable time with new and old friends, while also meeting Craig Kenkel, our new superintendent.
We partner with the National Park Service to create opportunities for all people to experience, enhance, and preserve Point Reyes National Seashore for present and future generations.
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