Oaks in Marin respond to fire mimicry

24 03 2017

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On Monday I checked on three coast live oaks trees in Marin County, CA that I’ve been treating with fire mimicry for several years. The first case study (above and below photos) shows the recovery of a large oak after five years of ongoing  fire mimicry treatments. The canopy of this oak is clearly lusher and denser compared to the time of initial treatment.

To remind the reader, fire mimicry treatments are based on traditional forest management practices used by past and present native people in California and elsewhere. The treatments focus on creating habitat and soil conditions favorable for oaks and other native trees.

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(Note that the pine tree behind this oak has since been removed.)

The next case study is a large coast live oak that has received ongoing fire mimicry treatments for three years, as well as several surgical procedures on stem cankers. When I first examined this oak it was severely defoliated and had several small stem cankers (possibly Sudden Oak Death disease) in the trunk. I told the owner that I was not sure the oak could be saved, but he insisted I try. It appears that the owner’s insistence has paid off. The oak has shown a noticeable improvement in canopy lushness and density (see photo sets below).

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(Above photo set is the same oak as the previous photo set, taken from a different angle.)

The last coast live oak I examined is a case study involving four years of ongoing fire mimicry treatments. The photo comparison here is not exact, as this year’s photos were taken two and a half weeks later in the initial photos (see photo sets below). The spring flush shown in this year’s photos had not yet appeared in the first year photos. Still, I get a sense that this oak is doing better than before.

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