Soberanes Wildfire in California's Central Coast Region

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A watershed-related issue examined by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.

Soberanes burn severity2016.png


The Soberanes wildfire started on July 22, 2016 and was not contained until October 12, 2016. [1] It burned a total of 132,127 acres, mostly in Los Padres National Forest (94,933 acres). [2]

Although previous fires, like the Marble Cone Fire and Basin Complex-Indians Fire, burned a greater acreage, the proximity to populated areas and duration of the Soberanes Fire made it a greater threat human life and homes, [3] and it is considered to be the most expensive fire fought on U.S. soil. [4]


The Soberanes Fire burned approximately 132,000 acres in the northern Santa Lucia Mountains[2].

Resources at Stake

For more information on the impacts of wildfires in California's Central Coast Region, click here.

Geologic Hazards

As with past fires in the area, the Soberanes Fire burned away vegetation that provides several geomorphic functions within the watershed, such as: maintaining slopes and drainage areas, keeping structure and erosiveness of the soil, and providing overall landscape stability. Without this vegetation, processes like rock falls, debris slides and flows, dry ravel, surface erosion, and gullying will be worsened in accordance with burn severity during storm flows.[5]


  1. Incident Information Website
  2. 2.0 2.1 CalFire Incident Information
  3. Schmalz, D. 2016 Jul 28. How the Soberanes Fire compares to others in recent county history. Monterey County Weekly.
  4. Ceballos, A. 2016 Nov 3. The Soberanes Fire is contained, but its aftermath has just begun. Monterey County Weekly.
  5. U.S. Forest Service Geologic Hazard Report



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