Major stem canker surgery on an ancient coast live oak in Big Sur

21 09 2021

Today I performed a major stem canker surgery in an effort to save an Esselen-era (400+ years old) coast live oak in Big Sur. The process involved large and small axe work, power multi-tools, cauterization, and poultice. This is part of a larger protocol called fire mimicry, which includes removal of woody understory, fertilization of soils with alkaline-rich minerals + compost tea, and application of limewash to the trunk. Here’s the link to a time-lapse video of today’s surgery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEISFdAErc4





3-year update on surgical procedure for Sudden Oak Death

22 02 2021
surgery-prep copy

Three years ago I came across a coast live oak in Big Sur with two stem canker infections, probably Sudden Oak Death. The above photo shows one of the infections prior to treatment. In the original post two years ago “Surgical procedure for Sudden Oak Death” I showed the suite of steps involved in removing, cauterizing, and poulticing the stem canker infection. This oak has also received fire mimicry treatments, which involve moss and lichen removal, along with applications of compost tea, soil minerals, and limewash. Below are the results after two years. While the wound it darkened due to the cauterization, it is clear to me that upon careful inspection both wounds are showing rapid healing and no sign of infection remains. The final photo set shows that the canopy of the oak is denser and lusher than prior to treatment.





Upcoming zoom lecture (Thursday, Nov. 12) – “Forest restoration theory and practice based on Indigenous cultural tending”

7 11 2020

This Thursday, November 12, (5:30 pm Pacific Time) I will be conducting a zoom lecture and discussion for the online course FORESTS, hosted by Texas Tech University, on the topic of “Forest Restoration Theory and Practice Based on Indigenous Cultural Tending”. The points I will be addressing are: Gaia theory, ecological succession, fire ecology of California, evidence of cultural modification of trees and landscapes, and approaches to forest restoration. The lecture is open to all, just be sure to register beforehand. Follow the embedded link to register.





Tom “Little Bear” Nason, Esselen Elder, on the history of fire management in Big Sur

20 09 2020

I live on Esselen tribal land. The name “Esselen” is derived from the word Ex’xien, or “the rock”, assumed by many to be Point Sur (pictured above). Several years ago I met an Esselen tribal elder named Little Bear at a meeting of the Four Winds Council in Big Sur, CA. I have since joined him in sweat lodge ceremonies and jaunts into sacred redwood groves. His perspectives have fascinated me over the years I have known him.

With his permission I am reposting below a recent series of photos and commentaries by Little Bear on the history of land management here in Big Sur. Please pay attention!

Tom “Little Bear” Nason, September 20, 2020:

“My Great Grandfather Fred P Nason with guests in Pine Valley, Los Padres National Forest in 1940s. Our family has lived, loved and shared this sacred lands for over many generations and we always will forever.Our family has been practicing traditional native indigenous Esselen tribal burning of this valley up until 1970s. Government said STOP BURNING!! My Forefathers all told them that by ordering ceasing off these lands it would begin a dangerous situation by allowing the brush and scrub to grow out control and the forests would become choked off and when a natural force like lighting comes it would cause the lower brush to burn at high heat and kill the trees. In this photo you see many big ponderosa pine trees and open meadows surrounding them. As Natives of this lands we knew how to manage our lands and the forests. Since 1940s, we’ve had many wildfires come thru the Santa Lucia Mountains and some were good for the land and most have been extremely damaging. I will start posting more pictures and stories about how my family and tribe have seen our beloved and sacred places here in Big Sur changing so much due to imbalance and the deep sadness for losing so many of the old trees. We need change and it’s very challenging for all us to live with so many fires so frequently!! Prayers and Respect to all who listen to Mother Nature🙏🏽🌀🌏🌲🐻🙏🏽 Tom Little Bear Nason September 20th, 2020 Last Day of Summer🌞 Praying for Early Rains🌧

Read the rest of this entry »




Results with eucalyptus and various fruit trees

24 04 2020

Slide1

Last year I began fire mimicry treatments on several eucalyptus trees in Big Sur, CA and assorted fruit trees in Davis, CA. I recently checked on them and it sure seems that these trees fancy the care we gave them. Enjoy!

Slide2

Slide3

Slide1

Slide2

Slide3





Wind-damaged oaks recover with the help of fire mimicry

2 03 2020

Slide1

In late February of 2019 are large wind storm hit Big Sur and damaged many trees. Here I present photos of several coast live oak trees treated with fire mimicry that were affected by the wind event. As you can see, the oaks have recovered nicely.

Slide2

Slide3 Read the rest of this entry »





2nd update on surgical procedure for Sudden Oak Death

23 02 2020

surgery-prep copy

Two years ago I came across a coast live oak in Big Sur with two stem canker infections, probably Sudden Oak Death. The above photo shows one of the infections prior to treatment. In the original post two years ago “Surgical procedure for Sudden Oak Death” I showed the suite of steps involved in removing, cauterizing, and poulticing the stem canker infection. This oak has also received fire mimicry treatments, which involve moss and lichen removal, along with applications of compost tea, soil minerals, and limewash. Below are the results after two years. While the wound it darkened due to the cauterization, it is clear to me that upon careful inspection both wounds are showing rapid healing and no sign of infection remains. The final photo set shows that the canopy of the oak is denser and lusher than prior to treatment.

Slide9 Read the rest of this entry »





Ailing oaks in Big Sur respond to fire mimicry

5 02 2020

Slide12

Two years ago I began fire mimicry treatments on a grove of sick coast live oaks in Big Sur, CA. Most of the oaks have responded well, including several that underwent surgical removal of bleeding stem cankers (probably Sudden Oak Death). Here are the before-and-after photos of the treated oaks. Note the photos are the same date, time of day, and light conditions as original photos.

Slide1 Read the rest of this entry »





A Decade of Fire Mimicry

30 12 2019

Oak dieback

Dead an dying coast live oak trees in Big Sur, CA

The past decade has been a tough one on California oaks. Tens of thousands of oaks have died and many more are in distress, simply because they are no longer being tended. For millennia the Indigenous People of California used, and still use, fire to improve the health of the native trees and forests.

Also over the past decade I and others have been tasked with restoring to health many of these oaks. During this time we have tended well over 1,000 oaks and other trees, with mostly positive, if not remarkable, results. Due to the severely overgrown nature of fire-suppressed forests, applying fire is not an immediate option. Therefore, we have been developing tending practices that mimic fire in ways that benefit the oaks.

Below are a selection of oaks, one per year of this past decade, that have inspired me to stay committed to tending our oaks. Many of these are legacies of the indigenous past and will, with our help, continue to be legacies in our future.

A decade of healing oaks . . .

20060104-1-4

Hearst Castle oak – 2010

20041129-1

Fairfax oak – 2011

Read the rest of this entry »





Oaks treated with fire mimicry fully recover from heavy wind damage in <1 yr

15 11 2019

Slide2

Slide10

In late February of this year a severe wind storm hit the coast of Big Sur and damaged many trees, including a large grove of coast live oaks I began treating with fire mimicry last year. I re-photographed many of the oaks at the time and could clearly see the loss of leaves in the oak canopies, compared to last fall. The photo sets above show how heavily some of the oaks were damaged.

The photos below show how these and many other oaks that sustained damage in the February storm recovered in just 8 months! Most are looking even healthier than they appeared last fall. It may well be that fire mimicry treatments have aided in the recovery of these oaks.

Slide1

Slide9 Read the rest of this entry »