Big Sur oaks on the mend …

26 10 2022

In October of 2020 I began fire mimicry treatments on 4 coast live oaks and one black oak here in Big Sur. The above oak also received a major stem canker surgery. Yesterday I checked on the progress of the oaks at the two year mark, nearly to the minute. I’ll never tire of seeing trees get healthier!

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Happy Earth Day 2022 from Big Sur, CA

22 04 2022

A stem canker surgery and recovery in Big Sur, CA

4 04 2022

Several years ago I started fire mimicry treatments on a coast live oak in Big Sur, CA. The treatment included stem canker surgery, as well as soil fertilization and limewash application. Here is a set of photos showing both the surgical procedure and progress of recovery of the wound and the canopy health of the oak. Be sure to look at the final photo of this sequence!

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Big Sur oak continues to flourish 4 years after canker surgery

10 03 2022

Four years ago I performed fire mimicry treatments and two canker surgeries on the above coast live oak in Big Sur. This oak was treated again two years ago. I checked on the oak yesterday and found it has completely transformed into a lush, vibrant tree. The bit of yellowing seen at the tips of the branches are thick clusters of male flowers. The two surgical wounds (below) have mostly healed shut will no remaining infection in one and a minor residual infection in the other.

Another nearby coast live oak was also treated twice with fire mimicry in the past 4 years, although did not require any surgery. Here are the results of that oak.

Responses of Big Sur oaks to fire mimicry followed by wildfire

25 02 2022

In February of 2019 I began photo documentation of 21 coast live oaks in Big Sur, CA. At least six of these appear to be “Ancestor” oaks, culturally-modified by the Esselen Indians via pollarding of their canopies. All oaks were initially treated with a fire mimicry protocol (clearing, pruning, moss/lichen removal, soil fertilization, & limewash), with the intention that this work would improve the survival rates of the oaks, whether or not a wildfire occurred. The first year results were About photo documented in February 2020. In August 2020 a severe wildfire was ignited in the area and burned through all the groves of the treated oaks.

Yesterday I was finally able to access the site to observe and photo document the findings. Both wooden structures on the property were lost, as were two treated oaks that grew adjacent to them. However, of the 21 oaks initially surveyed, 17 survived the fire, a survival rate of just over 80%. Four of the six “Ancestor” oaks also survived. More than 75% of the oaks showed noticeable signs of improvement in canopy lushness following fire mimicry. A year and a half after the wildfire, 6 of the surviving oaks continue to show signs of heavy fire damage in their canopies. However, 11 (or just over 50%) of the surviving oaks are showing significant improvement of their canopy health following the wildfire.

These are exciting results (see photos below) and show to me that fire mimicry treatments can provide considerable benefit to survivability and health of oaks and other trees in the event of a wildfire.

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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

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.

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:

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.