Dead vegetation to be burned in state parks along North Coast

California State Parks plans to burn piles of slash at Hearst San Simeon, Montaña de Oro and Morro Bay state parks sometime between now and May 1, according to information released to the media Monday.

The burning of dead, downed and diseased trees, bushes and other plant life is designed to reduce greatly the amount of fuel for fires in the two park areas.

When the work actually will happen — in the areas of the Washburn Day Use Area in San Simeon, Shark’s Inlet/Butte Drive and Camp KEEP horse corral in Montaña de Oro, and Black Hill in Morro Bay — will be determined primarily by the weather, according to Vince Cicero, a State Park environmental scientist.

Burning of such materials isn’t allowed until at least five days after a rainstorm, he said Monday, Feb. 6. So crews lined up to work this week may be restricted to cutting and piling the materials, and the actual burning may have to wait until things dry out a bit.

The burn project is part of the agency’s program to manage vegetation and protect structures in the areas where wildlands and urban neighborhoods meet. According to the news release, the program also is designed to decrease “potential for wildfires, enhance the health of the native plant communities, encourage increased species composition and aid in the control of pitch canker,” a fungal disease that attacks Monterey pine trees, among other species.

The State Parks program is done in cooperation with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and San Luis Obispo County’s Air Pollution Control District.