Diseased oaks flourishing after 12 years

29 11 2016

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Twelve years ago today I initiated fire mimicry treatments on a grove of diseased coast live oaks in Marin County, CA. Since then Leith Carstarphen has been doing the followup work on these trees. Several of these oaks have stem canker infections, probably Sudden Oak Death disease. Two of the oaks in this grove have since died from stem canker infections, but the remainder of the oaks are clearly flourishing.

I should note that, for the above oak, the yellow appearance of the foliage in the recent (right) photo is due to dense clusters of yellowish male flowers.

These thriving oaks stand as testimony to the long-term efficacy of indigenous-based tending techniques (e.g., fire mimicry) in restoring the health of oak forests.

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Indigenous-based tending of oaks: eleven year results

23 11 2016

 

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Eleven years ago I began treating this grove of oaks in Hillsborough, CA using indigenous-based methods (ie. fire mimicry). These sets of photos show their response after 11 years of care.

These are very significant results in that they show that these methods result in long-term (decade+) sustained recovery of oaks that were in decline.

Oak lovers and tree huggers, please take notice! And, please, thank the native ancestors for showing us the way!

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This last oak has been pruned since the initial photo. Note also that the roofline has been altered by construction, obscuring part of the tree. This oak has been infected with a stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) for the entire period. Despite the disease infection, which has been reduced via fertilization and surgery, this tree remains in relatively good health.





California oak mortality reversed!

23 11 2016

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Here in California there’s been, rightfully, much attention paid to a recent report on the death of more than 100 million trees in the state. Sadly, there has been no talk of solutions, even in the face of clear evidence that prescribed fire and other indigenous-based tending practices (e.g. fire mimicry) improve forest health.

Today I offer, yet again, further evidence of our ability to address the death and decline of oak trees. The coast live oaks shown here are located in Redwood City, CA and were all treated with fire mimicry 3 years ago. Yesterday I revisited these oaks, some of them heritage oaks, and took photos to assess the changes in their canopies over that time. In my view, the decline of the oaks here has not only been abated, it has been reversed, as most of the oaks are showing a clear improvement in the fullness of their canopies.

How many more observations and studies of successful forest restoration efforts are required before more people start acting to save our trees?

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Healing heritage oaks

1 11 2016

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Two years ago I had the task of helping a grove of struggling heritage oaks in Redwood City. All of the mature oaks are centuries old and reveal signs of having been tended by native people. I’m happy to say that after two years of applying fire mimicry methods based on traditional ecological knowledge these oaks are making a strong recovery.

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News headline: “California Sudden Oak Death Reaches Catastrophic Levels”

29 10 2016

Yesterday I read a news report with the headline “California Sudden Oak Death reaches catastrophic levels“.

Yesterday I also read a news report “Standing Rock: militarized police from 5 states escalate violence . . .

Now it may seem obscure to most, but these two issues are intimately related. Let me explain how.

The first report states that California is experiencing a crisis in tree mortality with over 66 million dead trees, all attributed to a single disease (Sudden Oak Death) and a single insect pest (Pine Bark Beetle). The report features statements from two experts, a pathologist and an entomologist. Neither scientist mentions a single word about possible solutions.

And to make matters worse, regardless of which way the weather trends, they say that the death of the trees will be exacerbated. More drought will fuel Pine Bark Beetles, and wet weather will favor the spread of Sudden Oak Death. All appears hopeless in any direction.

Now I have no problem highlighting the serious forest health issues we are having in California. Trees are dying and it is affecting us all. The problem I have is that this issue is not reducible to two species of organisms. Even if we could find a cure for Sudden Oak Death and Pine Bark Beetles, the trees would still be dying. There are dozens of other diseases and insect pests that would fill their niches.

When one recognizes that the problems affecting our forests are not pathological or entomological, but are ecological and ethnographical in nature, then solutions become self-evident. California forests that were tended with fire by native people for thousands of years are now declining due to over-competition and soil acidification. Diseases and pests that are normally controlled by fire are now flourishing.

As the Standing Rock protest illustrates, we have lost our connections to the people and practices that gave us such magnificent lands and forests. Honoring our native people by tending to their legacies is one way of supporting all that they live and stand for.

This website is offered as testimony to the promise of traditional values and knowledge in forest health and restoration. Contained here are many hundreds of photos documenting the recovery of sick and diseased trees using solutions based on practices and materials used by native people for thousands of years.

In other news from yesterday – a sick oak that has been treated with traditional practices is making a steady comeback . . .

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Carmel Valley heritage oak

21 10 2016

Every so often I get asked to provide some care for a single tree, usually a large heritage oak that dominates a particular property. Following a motto of “one tree at a time”, I never hesitate to help. So last year a Sudden Oak Life colleague, Shannon Boyle, and I had the honor of helping a massive, Indian-era coast live oak in Carmel Valley, CA. This ancient oak has clear signs of being pollarded and tended by the native people who lived in this valley hundreds of years ago. We applied fire mimicry methods to the trunk and the soils around the oak. One year later the canopy is showing a noticeable response in density, greenness, and size.

Deep gratitude to our ancestors for giving us these creatures. What better way to honor our Native American fore bearers than to extend the life and health of their legacies!

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More Carmel oaks respond to fire mimicry

13 09 2016

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