August 31, 2022

Community members across the North Bay are learning the intricacies of “good fire” as part of Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Fire Forward fellowship program. Fellows grow their controlled burning leadership knowledge over the course of one year and 300 hours of training. Supported by their employers, the 15 fellows receive one-on-one mentoring, classroom and field-based courses, and experience working on prescribed burns. Gear is provided with a generous grant from California Fire Foundation. Each Fellow has a capstone project where they partner with a landowner to plan and organize a prescribed burn. The experiences of the fellowship prepare participants to act as a fireline leader on prescribed burns, gain certifications, and progress toward...

August 30, 2022

Removing and burning plants may seem antithetical to land stewardship, but this is just what ACR’s land stewards and resource ecologists are up to this summer. The varied stewardship strategies employed across the preserves share the same goal: increasing the diversity of species for thriving ecosystems.

Controlling Cape-ivy

untitled_design.pngLeft: An area of Martin Griffin Preserve once overrun by Cape-ivy in 2002. Right: The...

August 02, 2022

ACR’s Conservation Science Intensive bridges the gender science gap with female-centered perspective

When 16-year-old Maggie from Fryeburg, Maine joined the group the first morning, she didn’t know what to expect from a week-long online exploration of conservation science. She hoped to gain confidence and knowledge and...

July 18, 2022
Lucas Morthole awarded 2022 David Bouverie Scholarship

Congratulations to Lucas Morthole of Santa Rosa, the recipient of the 2022 David Bouverie Scholarship!

Lucas Morthole awarded to David Bouverie Scholarship, heading to UC Berkeley.  

Since his youth, Lucas has taken every opportunity to study science during the school year and over the summer.

Beginning in the fifth grade, Lucas joined Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Juniper Junior Naturalist program, which welcomes and encourages young learners who are curious about nature and conservation science. As a Juniper, Lucas participated in habitat stewardship, helped guide nature walks and conduct newt counts, and served as a mentor to the younger Junipers.

In high school, Lucas began exploring the worlds of chemistry and biology. He reflects on one semester when he had...

June 28, 2022
Young writer and winner of M.F.K. Writing Contest sitting on a rock in a shady forest.

When nature finds you

“I discovered that day, that in finding nature, natures finds you.” And so concluded a winning essay from the Third Annual Last House Writing Contest hosted by Audubon Canyon Ranch, a Northern California conservation organization and steward of iconic American writer M.F.K. Fisher’s “Last House” in the Sonoma Valley.

More than seventy entries were received, with the largest number submitted from young writers aged 13–17, who learned about the contest from teachers and online resources for creative writing.

Essays were received from a dozen US states—and in a first for the contest—approximately one-third of the entries submitted were penned by writers living outside the United States, including from Abu Dhabi, Beijing, India, Singapore,...

June 15, 2022
Prescribed burn on a slope with grass in Sonoma County. Five people lead the prescribed burn on a small area of grassland.

In early June, our Fire Forward staff joined Modini Preserve’s Resident Biologist and Manager, Michelle Cooper, to lead a two-acre prescribed burn. The goal of this burn was to support biodiversity in an area invaded by medusahead.

California Invasive Plant Council considers this annual grass highly invasive, which is one reason that Cooper selected a medusahead-rich area for “good fire treatment.” Volunteers from the Good Fire Alliance and firefighters from Northern Sonoma County Fire District also made this burn possible.

Since the Kincade Fire in 2019, the 3,000 acres of Modini Preserve have not experienced fire—including...

May 31, 2022
Snowy Egret in Eucalyptus tree at Bird Day

Bird Day is back for students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary, leaving students and teachers with something to smile about. The photo above shows one of the many Snowy Egrets nesting in this heronry, visible via spotting scopes. 

Heronry in Santa Rosa becomes an outdoor and community classroom

After a two-year break, ACR hosted a special visit to the W. 9th Street heronry in Santa Rosa for the students of Lincoln Elementary School.

On Friday, May 27, students walked from their school to a local heronry in a suburban neighborhood, where they got to see the herons through spotting scopes. The heronry on W. 9th Street is home to four species of herons and has over 200 nests, making it an important habitat—especially during nesting season.

For some students and...

May 26, 2022

Audubon Canyon Ranch has been awarded a $2 million grant from CAL FIRE. The largest share of the funding will be directed to its Fire Forward program, a prescribed fire training program that focuses on building capacity for prescribed burning across the San Francisco Bay Area. A prescribed burn, also called a controlled burn, is the intentional application of fire to vegetation for the purpose of land and resource stewardship.

Local solutions to overcome California’s prescribed fire workforce deficit

The four-year grant will launch a workforce development program, the Fire Forward Intensive, which will train five new full-time prescribed burn leaders each year. Participants will complete a range of formal wildland fire training courses and informal workshops, and gain...

May 15, 2022
Beatrice Pezzolo during her interview for "Choose Nature"

This blog is part of our Choose Nature series, where we offer behind-the-scenes content that explores a central question in conservation: why did “choosing nature” feel like the fulfilling and right thing to do?

Beatrice Pezzolo is a high school sophomore, a passionate birder, and an emerging conservation scientist. From the team at Audubon Canyon Ranch, we thank Beatrice for her dedication to birds and community! The interview is available below to watch as well.

May 08, 2022
Person holding a chainsaw next to a burned tree.

Fire practitioners Max Psaledakis and Eric Radcliffe express how this year-long internship gave them a sense of the community and deeper understanding of prescribed burning. In the above photo, Eric Radcliffe pauses using a chainsaw to smile.

Students receive ample field experience with “good fire”

This past academic year, Santa Rosa Junior College partnered with us to create a Fire Forward internship for students seeking experience with controlled burning. Two of the interns, Max Psaledakis and Eric Radcliffe, had a chance to reflect on what made their experience unique—and worthwhile.
“The community here has been a huge part of why this was a positive experience,” says Radcliffe. He applied for this internship in 2021 after deciding to explore career...