Big Sur oaks respond quickly to fire mimicry

26 01 2019

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Last year I began treating a grove of sick coast live oaks with fire mimicry protocols here in Big Sur. As you can see many of the oaks are making a dramatic recovery in just one year. This past year has seen below normal precipitation for this area, so this response is not weather related. Perhaps it’s time to start tending more oaks, again. Enjoy!

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Video – “Living with Fire: Fire Ecology of the Central Coast” Dec. 6, 2018, Santa Cruz Public Library

20 12 2018

Big Sur 2008 fire

“Living with Fire: Fire Ecology of the Central Coast” – a talk by Lee Klinger





Living with fire: The fire ecology of the Central Coast

28 11 2018

On Thursday, December 6, 2018 I’ll be presenting and discussing the fire ecology of the Central Coast at the Santa Cruz Public Library (224 Church St.) starting at 6:30 pm. Topics will include the California native people’s use of fire in land management, modern fire regimes, fire mimicry, and the role of climate change. For more information on this free event see: https://www.santacruzpl.org/news/permalink/793/

Big Sur 2008 fire





Big Sur oaks respond to fire mimcry

13 03 2017

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Three years ago I began fire mimicry treatment on a grove of coast live oaks here in Big Sur. This is an area with serious oak decline problems, with many oaks having stem cankers (probably Sudden Oak Death). My crew and I did significant clearing and pruning of the oaks and fertilized the soils with compost tea and alkaline-rich minerals, and I performed stem canker surgeries on several of the oaks. The owner was adamant that we NOT apply a limewash to the trunks, due to the aesthetics of the white-trunk trees. The oaks were treated again in 2015 with compost tea and soil minerals.

Today I visited the oaks and re-photographed them. Here are the results. While most of the oaks showed a positive response, some did not. My sense is that limewashing the trunks would have given better results. Still, it is useful to see that clearing, pruning, compost tea, and soil minerals, without limewash, can benefit the oaks.

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Pine, oak, and ironwood trees in Big Sur responding nicely after a decade of fire mimicry

20 07 2016

What is fire mimicry?

pine B

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Coast live oak in Big Sur cured of stem canker infection using fire mimicry + surgery

18 07 2016

This is exciting news! A coast live oak in Big Sur appears to have been cured of two stem canker infections (possibly Sudden Oak Death) using fire mimicry and surgical methods. Furthermore, no new infections have occurred on this tree. While I’ve reported on the progress of other coast live oaks that have received fire mimicry and surgery (see here, here, and here), this is the first oak that I feel confident has been cured of a stem canker infection!

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There is also evidence at the same site that the deep cracks forming in other coast live oaks, cracks that allow infection by stem canker disease, are healing well. And, no new cracks are forming. Published studies have shown that “the presence of unweathered bark in bark furrows, (is) positively correlated with disease (Sudden Oak Death)”. Note in the photo below that the exposed unweathered bark is healing.

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Oak restoration at Esalen Institute

24 04 2016

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This past Earth Day (April 22) I visited Esalen Institute in Big Sur and spoke on results of forest restoration using fire mimicry in California to the farm and garden staff. I also had the occasion to inspect and photograph several oaks that were treated with fire mimicry at an Earth Day event in 2012. These photos show pretty remarkable improvement in the canopy size and density of the oaks over the past four years, with one exception. The last oak in the photo sets below is in a very windy location. It has shown slight improvement over the years, but this year is exhibiting some browning of the leaves. I suspect this browning is a result of the very dry conditions in 2015. All of these oaks will receive another round of care this spring. Many thanks to the Esalen community for their support of this oak restoration effort!

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