Ecological recovery underway on Modini Preserve

Ecological recovery underway on Modini Preserve

Submitted by Wendy Coy on December 12, 2019 – 3:14pm

The Kincade Fire burned 95% of Modini Preserve’s 3,000 acres, leaving behind a mixture of fire-severity and signs of damage from the fire fight. The most scaring impact of the fire fight includes 13 acres of fire lines cut by bulldozers along ridge tops and through some of the preserve’s sensitive serpentine habitat—which supports rare populations of St. Helena fawn lilies and serpentine sunflowers. Heavy equipment also compromised the primary access route to the preserve, requiring major repairs and erosion control measures.

Community responds to a call for serious loving care

Recognizing an urgent need, our community stepped forward in a big way, offering services, in-kind donations and even a $20,000 matching grant. In a little less than two weeks, friends and supporters surpassed the match and have enabled preserve staff and contractors to begin to repair damage and restore ecological health.

Addressing erosion concerns on dozer lines, lines and associated berms are being smoothed out with hoes to avoid water concentrating on slopes and creating rills and gullies (more erosion). Then we are applying a mix of native grasses—California brome (42%), purple needle grass (14%), blue wild rye (27%), and a sterile annual grass mix (17%)—a selection that includes both rapid germination species for immediate erosion control and slow growing, long lived grasses, like the purple needle grass, which may live up to 100 years or more. The mix is covered with weed-free rice straw and is already beginning to geminate upon the arrival of the late fall rains.

Post-wildfire research projects are underway

Soon after the fire, preserve manager Michelle Cooper approved access for three post-wildfire water quality research projects; two are being conducted by Sonoma Water and partners, and another conducted by Stanford University. We have also hosted a post-wildfire landscape stewardship tour for neighbors and friends who may have lost homes or significant habitat during the Kincade Fire and are eager to learn ways to heal their land.

Support is still needed!

Our post-fire mandate is to minimize sediment loss and protect water quality for all of us who depend on it. In coming months, we will need to purchase more materials and hire additional crews to complete road repairs, finish reseeding native plants and help restore the ecological resilience of this precious landscape, now and into the future. Please make a gift to the Modini Fire Recovery Fund today.