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Montini Open Space Preserve

Photo by Conor Hagen

Notice of Upcoming Pile Burns

Starting February 21, 2024 and continuing periodically through April, Sonoma Ecology Center in collaboration with the City of Sonoma will be conducting controlled pile burns at the Montini Open Space Preserve in Sonoma. While the park will remain open, some trails may be impacted, so please observe closure signs.

Controlled Pile Burn Dates:

  • Wednesday, February 21
  • Thursday, February 22
  • March 12, 13 (19, 20 will be rescheduled in April)
  • April 10

Rain, wind, or Bay Area Air Quality Management District “no burn” days will postpone the proposed burn dates.  If you observe smoke during this period, be aware that it is part of ongoing efforts to reduce wildfire risk and promote ecological resilience through these controlled burns. Subscribe to our Newsletter or follow us on Instagram or Facebook for updates. 

Pile Burn Background

Through a grant funded by the State Coastal Conservancy’s Wildfire Resilience Program, Sonoma Ecology Center has been performing fuel management work at Montini Preserve over the past several months. This has included cutting dead, downed, or dense vegetation along trails to effectively create a “shaded fuel break”, which can help slow the speed and intensity of a fire if it moves through a landscape.

Volunteers have assisted the SEC restoration crew in helping build conservation burn piles, which are designed to burn with minimal smoke particulates released into the air. Through the winter months, SEC plans to remove those fuels in an ecologically-informed way by burning the piles and using small, portable kilns to produce biochar. 

Work will primarily be occurring along the Spotted Fawn Trail at Montini Preserve, and signage will indicate when a burn day is occurring.


Throughout the 1990’s, Sonoma Ecology Center promoted the vision of a “protected hillside backdrop” for the City of Sonoma. We worked with community leaders and organizations toward this vision, which resulted in protection from development of the City’s Mountain Cemetery property and creation of the Sonoma Overlook Trail, as well as protection of the Montini family’s ranch on the western hillside.

Ninety-eight acres of the Montini ranch property was purchased in fee by Ag + Open Space as the Montini Open Space Preserve, and transferred to the City of Sonoma in 2014. The Preserve is situated at Sonoma’s northern edge and is visible from most of town. Locals and tourists now walk its trails for scenic views of Sonoma Valley, San Pablo Bay, and San Francisco, as well as to enjoy its oak woodlands, seasonal streams and wildflowers. The former ranchland is also important local habitat for Sonoma Valley’s many native species.

Sonoma Ecology Center partners with the City of Sonoma to manage the Montini Preserve’s land, including habitat restoration and trail work by our Restoration Department. Our educators also use Montini—sometimes in conjunction with Restoration—to teach children about nature and the outdoors.

On the eastern side of the hillside backdrop, with the City of Sonoma, we support Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards, an all-volunteer group to manage Sonoma Overlook Trail. Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards maintains the trails, provides information focusing on the trail’s flora, fauna and history, and raises money to maintain the trail. Learn more about Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards on their website.

Montini Open Space Preserve’s looped trails are open from dawn to dusk every day and are accessible to the public by two trailheads, one at 4th Street West and Haraszthy Drive and one at Field of Dreams on 1st Street West.

Sonoma Ecology Center does its work on the traditional territories of the Wappo, Miwok, and Pomo peoples, who have stewarded this land for generations.