First Rain Farm will be conducting a prescribed burn today, October 13th, at the end of Toyon Drive in Penn Valley. All necessary permits issued by CalFire and the Northern Sierra Air Quality District will be obtained prior to burning activities and an experienced crew will be involved with safely implementing this four-acre grass and mixed oak woodland burn.

With the change in the season and a gradual cooling trend, opportunities for prescribed burning are increasing. We understand that this news may create anxiety for some and there may be strong opinions around this activity happening at all.

The fact of the matter is that we live in a fire-dependent landscape.  The simple reason for this has to do with the timing of our annual precipitation and the lack of prime conditions for decomposition.  We receive our rain during the cold winter months, for the most part, and during the warm summer months we are mostly dry.  Because the moisture does not coincide with the warmth, there is very little opportunity for biological decomposition within our ecosystem. Under these conditions, we see a gradual and excessive accumulation of dead organic material in our forests. Fire, therefore, largely takes the place of biological decomposition of this material through combustion, while providing a host of other benefits related to forest health such as natural thinning, nutrient release, and a general ecosystem invigoration. Fire has existed here longer than humans have, and without utilizing fire as the valuable tool it is, we are left simply with fear of wildfire.

It is our intention, in providing this notice to our community, to foster understanding and awareness of the importance of burning, and to mitigate the negative emotional reaction to smelling and seeing smoke in our skies from one of anxiety and fear, to one of understanding and appreciating the role and use of fire where we all live. In the coming years I believe this understanding will continue to grow and a comfort with burning the land will return to the culture at large.

Thank you for taking the time to consider the important role of fire. We encourage you to spread the word about this burn to your friends and family so we can all be more prepared. 


Tim Van Wagner of First Rain Farm