As you may know, TomKat Ranch has been working closely with Cal Fire to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through regenerative cattle and goat grazing and prescribed burning.

October 2021 Prescribed Burn

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know, TomKat Ranch has been working closely with Cal Fire to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through regenerative cattle and goat grazing and prescribed burning. Our lands are located very close to the town of Pescadero so we see fire mitigation as essential to helping assure our community stays safe. 

Starting in 2018, we worked with CalFire to develop a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP), a detailed 10-year plan for small-scale prescribed burns to address wildfire risks in areas that are not possible to mow or masticate. The plan includes plans for fire breaks, wildlife, endangered species, and water quality protection, as well as other precautions. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, we were informed by CalFire that on Friday, October 1st, weather conditions would be ideal to begin a prescribed burn because wind conditions would have enough lift and mixing, without being at risk for the fire to escape.

Seizing upon this rare “weather window,” we immediately began informing neighbors that 30 acres on TomKat Ranch would be subject to a controlled burn. Additionally, we worked with Cal Fire to publish a press release and share the news through digital and print postings. 

Unfortunately, we have come to learn that not everyone who could see the smoke got the news in time. Historically, prescribed burning was very common in the autumn along the coast, but prescribed burning has not occurred in San Mateo County for over a decade.  We understand that seeing fire and/or smelling smoke, especially after the CZU Lightning Complex fires last summer, might have been alarming and upsetting. This was not our intention, and we are working to improve our efforts to better inform the entire community and normalize this beneficial practice as we continue to work with CalFire to reduce the risk of wildfire over the next several years. 

As a regenerative ranch committed to improving the ecological resilience of working lands and sharing our learnings with the community, we learned a lot from our first experience with a prescribed burn—both about the nature of the burn itself and about how to more effectively communicate with the Pescadero community and surrounding areas. Going forward, CalFire and TomKat Ranch will strive to give as much notice to the community as possible across a wide range of communications channels.

To that end, we would like to alert everyone that there may be another appropriate weather window in October for a smaller approximately 10-acre prescribed burn on TomKat Ranch

If CalFire decides we can go forward with the prescribed burn, we will inform the community through a press release, announcements on our social media and website, and posting digital announcements on Pescadero, La Honda, and San Gregorio Nextdoor. CalFire will also continue to provide updates on these prescribed burns via their San Mateo- Santa Cruz Twitter profile.

We also recommend downloading the free Smoke Spotter App by the California Air Resources Board that “provides updates on the latest information on prescribed fires, projected smoke impacts, current air quality, and educational material.”  Additionally, the Alert Wildlife Camera located on Lane Hill gives a view of parts of TomKat Ranch and can be viewed at ALERTWildfire | Central Coast.

We are sincerely grateful to CalFire for its leadership and to our community for its positive and negative feedback that will help us as these prescribed burns move forward. During a time of increasing drought and more destructive wildfires from climate change, these types of fire treatments can help regenerate and restore the resilience of our ecosystem, protecting our planet and people. We value being a member of the Pescadero community and will continue to work diligently to be a good neighbor and do what we can to safeguard its lands, animals, and people.

The Team at TomKat Ranch