Today’s “Tending the Forest with Fire” workshop summary

5 12 2021

Today Sudden Oak Life, EcoCamp Coyote, and the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association (CCPBA) held a workshop “Tending the Forest with Fire” at Indian Canyon hosted by Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Mutsun Ohlone). This was a followup event to the Fire Mimicry and TEK workshop at Indian Canyon in November ’21 where we learned the details of fire mimicry and traditional tending of the land.

After singing her beautiful Grandmother song to the group of over 60 participants today, Kanyon shared a thoughtful land acknowledgement and a summary of the Native history of Indian Canyon. I then described briefly the ecology and practice of fire mimicry covered in the previous workshop, and the strategies for staging the cleared materials for burning. Jared Childress (CCPBA) then provided detailed instructions on burn preparation protocols, methods and tools for safe pile burning, and the various resources for conducting these activities on private properties. A crew from Cal Fire showed up with their fire engine and made clear their intent of supporting and educating folks on safe fire management.

Once the fires were started we switched from workshop to work party mode, and ended up burning all the piles of cleared material from the previous workshop. Jonathan Kabat showed up with a simple setup for making biochar, and we made several hundred pounds of biochar today, which we will spread around the nearby oaks to improve their health.

Below are some photos of today’s activities. Many thanks to all who participated!

Opening circle
Jared Childress (Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association)
Feeding the fires
Feeding the fire
Making biochar
Putting out the fires at the end of the day
Biochar spoils

“Tending the Forest with Fire” at Indian Canyon

19 11 2021

Here’s an upcoming one-day workshop on “Tending the forest with fire” sponsored by Sudden Oak Life, the Central Coast Prescribed Fire Association, and EcoCamp Coyote at Indian Canyon, near Hollister, CA. Proceeds will go to the “Save Indian Canyon” fundraiser. Spaces are limited so please sign up soon!

For more information see the Eventbrite page.

Oaks in Felton, CA respond to fire mimicry despite drought conditions

17 11 2021

Last year we treated several coast live oaks, some of them ancestor oaks, with fire mimicry on a property in Felton, CA. They all received compost tea, soil minerals, and limewash, and some of them also had stem canker surgeries. Here are the results, a pretty decent recovery IMO after only one year, under drought conditions …

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Spreading the knowledge of Fire Mimicry and TEK

15 11 2021

Last night I returned home to Big Sur full of hope and joy after a successful “Fire Mimicry and Insights of Traditional Ecological Knowledge” workshop held at Indian Canyon over the weekend. About 60 truly fine and stellar people showed up! Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Costanoan Ohlone, Chumash) welcomed us warmly to Indian Canyon and skillfully held us accountable for our sacred relations to the land and people. Ruth Orta (Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok) generously shared stories of her family history and instructed us on traditional methods of acorn processing. Leo Lauchere, Ero Gorski, Jill Kunishige, and the rest of the crew of Ecocamp Coyote did a fantastic job of organizing the schedule and providing the necessary infrastructure. And all the while, Red prepared and served us the tastiest vegan meals imaginable!. Many thanks, too, to my loyal colleagues Giovanna Piumarta, Sprout Weinberger, Siena King, and Jorge Espinosa for showing up and sharing their fire mimicry knowledge and insights. If you missed the event, don’t worry, we’ll definitely be doing this again!

Also, there will a followup event on Sunday, December 5, 2021 at Indian Canyon where we will be holding a burn pile workshop. Prescribed fire expert Jared Childress and several of his colleagues will be there to help lead and teach us about fire safety and management. I’ll also be there sharing about fire mimicry. Watch this page for further details.

Here are images of some of the event highlights this past weekend …

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Stem canker surgery on an Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak

10 11 2021

Below is a time-lapse video of a stem canker surgery we did today on a pollarded, Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak in Portola Valley, CA. Note the removal of diseased tissue with axes and power multi-tools, cauterization, and poultice application. This was followed by a limewash application to the trunk, as well as compost tea and alkaline-rich mineral amendments to the soils. Enjoy!

Upcoming 3-day workshop: Fire Mimicry and Insights into Traditional Ecological Knowledge

31 10 2021

Indian Canyon Nation, EcoCamp Coyote, and Sudden Oak Life are collaborating on an upcoming 3-day intensive workshop titled “Fire Mimicry and Insights of Traditional Ecological Knowledge” being held at Indian Canyon November 12-14, 2021. This event will feature Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Mutsun Ohlone), Ruth Orta (Him•re-n of Ohlone, Bay Miwok, and Plains Miwok), Ero Gorski and Leo Lauchere (EcoCamp Coyote), and Lee Klinger (Sudden Oak Life). Here are some of the topics we will cover:

• identifying culturally modified trees and landscapes

• the science and practice of fire mimicry

• demonstration of stem canker surgical procedure

• considerations for acorn harvesting

• methods of oak seedling propagation.

This is a rare event and should not be missed by anyone passionate about tending oaks and other native trees. More information and registration for the event are here.

Coast live oak at Indian Canyon tended with fire mimicry since 2019

Big Sur oaks respond to fire mimicry despite drought conditions

23 10 2021

Last year we treated several coast live oaks and a black oak in Big Sur with a fire mimicry protocol. Here are the results after one year. While the light conditions varied between years, there is clear indication that these oaks are responding positively to the treatments, despite the drought conditions. There is a time-lapse video of the treatment of the black oak (below) on my youtube channel:

See the following link to a youtube time-lapse video showing the treatment sequence of the above oak

Diseased coast live oaks in Los Altos making a recovery

8 10 2021
Ancient Ohlone-tended coast live oak with a severe stem canker disease

I recently inspected four mature coast live oaks in Los Altos, CA that I first treated last year with fire mimicry. All four have stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death), and the largest, a 300+ yrs old Ohlone-tended (pollarded) oak, is severely diseased. Stem canker surgeries involving canker removal with an axe and multi-tool, cauterization of the wound, and poultice application were done on all four oaks.

All four oaks are showing noticeable improvement in canopy health (greenness), and the surgeries, for the most part were successful, although there are small residual infections in two of the oaks that need to be treated. Otherwise, I’m calling this a win after just one year! Of course, I will continue to treat and monitor these oaks in future years.

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Another video of a stem canker surgery on an ancient coast live oak in Big Sur, CA

2 10 2021

Here’s a short time-lapse video of a minor stem canker surgery we did on an ancient coast live oak here in Big Sur yesterday. The surgical protocol involves canker removal with an axe and multi-tool, cauterization of wound, and mineral poultice application. We also treated this oak with compost tea, alkaline-rich soil minerals, and limewash.

Coast live oaks in Soquel, CA respond to fire mimicry

28 09 2021

Last September (2020) I treated 8 mature coast live oaks in Soquel, CA, with fire mimicry. We first pruned and cleared around the oaks, which was documented at the time in this post “Initial stages of fire mimicry in Soquel, CA”. We then spread compost tea and alkaline-rich minerals to the surrounding soils, and applied limewash to the trunks of the oaks. After one (drought) year, all 8 of the oaks are showing improvement in canopy density and lushness. Note that in Case No. 20200927.6 (below), this oak is severely infected with a stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) but is still showing a slight improvement in canopy health.

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