Van Hoosear is a stunning 163-acre wildflower preserve in the foothills of Sonoma Mountain. The property — a gently sloping grassland with more than 250 species of common and rare wildflowers and native grasses — is permanently protected under a conservation easement made possible by the voter-approved Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) and the California Wildlife Conservation Board.
Sonoma Ecology Center manages Van Hoosear through a partnership with the landowner, and every spring our naturalists lead the public on guided tours through its spectacular wildflower displays. (To be first to learn about our wildly popular wildflower walks, subscribe to our newsletter or become a member.)
Prescribed Burns at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve
Video of 2021 prescribed burn by Steven Lee
Pictures from the 2021 prescribed fire by Kristen Russell
The June 4, 2021, prescribed burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve was deemed a success!
Unplanned wildfires can be devastating, but planned burns can effectively remove excess flammable vegetation, manage invasive plants, and revitalize native plant communities such as the Preserve’s wildflower meadows.
Since 2004, we have worked with the owners of the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve to co-manage the wildflower meadows and grasslands, oak woodlands, and riparian habitats of the Preserve. This 162-acre property is protected forever against future development, to preserve its beauty and its rich and rare mix of native plants and animals.
Several non-native, invasive plant species grow in the Preserve. Some of them are not edible by cattle, so despite careful summer grazing, their populations continue to expand. Medusahead, for example, is an invasive grass that creates a thick layer of persistent, flammable thatch that smothers native grasses and wildflowers and has a prickly seed head that cattle avoid. A prescribed burn in 2020 at the Preserve made a good start at reducing Medusahead and other invasives. You may have also heard about controlled burns in 2018 at the Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen, and in 2016 and 2017 at Pepperwood Preserve, northeast of Santa Rosa, that successfully reduced Medusahead and reduced the burn intensity during the Nuns fire.
The Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve
We held a prescribed burn on June 4, 2021, that covered some 11 acres. We expect this area to display wildflower recovery much as the area did that was burned in 2020.
The Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve prescribed burn is organized and prepared by Sonoma Ecology Center with support from ACR’s Fire Forward team and conducted by volunteer community members of the Good Fire Alliance with leadership from Phil Dye of Prometheus Fire Consulting. Thank you to the Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department, Sonoma Valley Fire District, Santa Clara County Parks Department, and Cazadero Fire Department for sending people and engines in support of this effort.
Good Fire Alliance
Learn more about our 2020 prescribed burn on the property.
Wildflowers bloom in 2021 in the acreage that was burned in 2020.
The prescribed burn in 2020 allowed for wildflower recovery.
Mother Nature’s gift of a cool morning, relative humidity, low wind plus our technically capable team and preparedness allowed Sonoma Ecology Center and our partners the right weather conditions to conduct another successful prescribed burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower...
Controlled or “prescribed” burns were used by indigenous people for centuries before Europeans arrived here. It is an effective ancient art and science that promotes both fire resiliency and biodiversity. Last year’s prescribed burn of about 30 acres at Van Hoosear...
On Friday, May 22, Sonoma Ecology Center and its partners conducted a 35-acre prescribed burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve west of Sonoma. The burn was a success—and a glimpse at our possible future here in Sonoma Valley. As Restoration Program Manager Jason...
Use of controlled or “prescribed” burns is both an ancient art and a new science. Here in the North Bay, the practice was used for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. Today, it is an essential tool in promoting both fire resiliency and biodiversity. That’s why...
UPDATE: The prescribed burn at Van Hoosear is now tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 22, dependent on weather conditions. Sonoma Ecology Center, CalFire and other partners s are planning a prescribed burn at the privately owned Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve west...