County of Marin - News Releases - Pile Burning

For Immediate Release
December 01, 2020

Crews to Burn Piles to Reduce Wildfire Fuels

Sites from Novato to Mill Valley scheduled for burns as weather permits

San Rafael, CA – Pile burning to reduce wildfire fuel hazards is scheduled to begin at seven locations around Marin County as soon as air quality officials provide a green light.

Marin County Parks officials are working with the Marin County Fire Department and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on the project, which will begin when weather conditions are optimal for burning. In recent days, a high-pressure system and morning inversion layers have prevented crews from igniting the piles. Wednesday, December 2, remains a possibility as the first day of burning.

A view of a hillside with several firefighters burning piles of woody debris to reduce wildfire fuels.Crews burn piles of vegetation at a previous wildfire fuel reduction project near Tiburon.
“We are given about 24 hours of notice before we can burn,” said Nate Clark, Parks’ Biodiversity and Fuels Management Coordinator. “When we get the go-ahead, we plan to use social media to let people know in areas close to the burning so they are aware of what we’re doing.”

The burn locations in Marin are:

  • Overhill Road near the Camino Alto Open Space Preserve in Mill Valley
  • Sanchez Way and Aries Lane near the Verissimo Hills Open Space Preserve in western Novato
  • Corte Norte near the Loma Verde Open Space Preserve in the Ignacio area of Novato
  • Cascade Drive near Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve southwest of downtown in Fairfax
  • Cedar Hill Drive on the ridge between Terra Linda and Sleepy Hollow
  • Pacheco Creek Drive near the Pacheco Valle Open Space Preserve in southern Novato

Reducing the vegetative fuel load is a critical part of the County of Marin’s plan to mitigate wildfire danger, and Marin County Fire’s Tam Crew has completed multiple fuel reduction efforts on County Open Space land. The work was focused on removing low-lying vegetation that can carry fire to taller tree canopies – called ladder fuels – from forest floors close to private residences and create a more fire-resistant habitat. The excess woody material from fuel reduction projects is often chipped, but some locations are too remote and the terrain too uneven to feasibly stage a chipper. For those cases, the Tam Crew makes piles for later burning. The crew has finished all vegetation cutting activities for the season and is preparing the piles of cut vegetative material for ignition.

The timing and order of the burns is subject to change. Neighbors should watch Parks’ social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor to receive notification that a planned burn is taking place. Once a burn is underway, neighbors can expect to see and smell smoke from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.

“We do our best to get the word out in advance, so people aren’t alarmed about a wildfire and begin to inundate our 9-1-1 dispatchers with emergency calls,” said Jim Chayka, Parks’ Superintendent. “Burn piles are a reliable method to dispose of vegetative material safely and efficiently.”  

This project is funded by Marin County Parks and Open Space Measure A, a 2012 quarter-cent retail transactions and use tax, which supports County parks and open space and programs, local cities and town parks and programs, land acquisition and farmland preservation.

More information is online about Parks’ vegetation management plans. Make sure your home is protected from wildfire and is surrounded by defensible space by checking the websites of FIRESafe Marin and Marin County Fire.


Nate Clark
Biodiversity and Fuels Management Coordinator
Marin County Parks

Marin Civic Center
Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 492-0121
Email: Nate Clark