Controlled burns near campus

Large California fires that should not concern students

By Jenna Ethridge
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Sign depicting possible road closure for controlled burns. Photo by Jenna Ethridge.

Each year, the surrounding areas of California State University, Monterey Bay’s East and main campus are subjected to prescribed burns controlled by the Army. In an attempt to clear the land of any remnants from Fort Ord’s past as a military training center that could pose potential threats to current inhabitants, the areas are burned in a safe and manageable manner that exposes the ground surface, allowing for thorough excavations.

This practice also encourages new growth among native vegetation, as invasive species are removed and soil fertility increases through newly converted nutrients, while also reducing the risk of wildfire. Though visible flame and smoke can cause concern to nearby residents, especially during a fire season as extreme as the one California is currently experiencing, prescribed burns occur on Fort Ord biannually.

Students enrolled in the Direct Notification Program may receive notice of upcoming burns a few days prior to their commencement, available for registration on the Fort Ord Cleanup website. Those with air quality worries are also encouraged to register for notifications, as smoke travels and will impact the encompassing air. To minimize the amount of exposure to contaminated air during these burns, citizens are urged to stay indoors, keep doors and windows shut, and remain hydrated through the regular consumption of water and use of nasal saline spray.

Dates of impending burns for the remainder of this year have yet to be announced, though affected areas will include Unit A, a 324 acre stretch of land located 1.2 miles from campus, and Unit 31, a 103 acre area located approximately 3.8 miles from campus. Road closures during these dates will include South Boundary and Rancho Saucito, as well as trails near Eucalyptus and Barloy Canyon.

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