More ladder fuel removal from an oak grove in Carmel Valley

26 09 2022

Here’s a time-lapse video of the fire mimicry work we did today in Carmel Valley. Enjoy!





Removing ladder fuels from an ancient oak grove

21 09 2022

Yesterday our crew of fire mimicry practitioners began treatment of an ancient oak grove in Carmel Valley, CA. The videos here show the results of clearing ladder fuels to help prevent a healthy ground fire from becoming a destructive canopy fire. The video below was cut short by an unfriendly encounter with a wasp nest, an ever-present menace along with all the poison oak.





Restoration of oak woodland and native bunchgrass prairie in California’s central coast

17 09 2022

The latest efforts here at Sudden Oak Life have involved the restoration of about 20 acres of oak woodland and native prairie habitat in the Central Coast. I have pulled together a strong team of workers who are well trained in the principles and practices of fire mimicry.

On one particular hillside young coast live oaks have been invading an adjacent prairie of native bunchgrasses dominated by California fescue. Coastal prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in California due to fire suppression and conversion to agricultural uses. In places, the oak trees have shaded out and all but replaced the native prairie species. Our work here focused on removing many of the woody shrubs and young oaks along the prairie margin, and thinning and pruning oaks in nearby woodlands that still support substantial bunchgrass cover. Efforts were made to preserved many of the native understory species including toyon, currant, sage, and mountain mahogany. All the removed oaks were less than 6″ in diameter, per county regulations.

Young coast live oak invading native bunchgrass prairie, marked for removal
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How to prepare a grove of ancient oaks for cultural burning

10 08 2022

Here are several time-lapse videos from today showing our efforts to prepare a grove of ancient coast live oaks for reintroduction of cultural fire via fire mimicry. Notice that our focus is on removing ladder fuels in ensure that any cultural fires remain on the ground (good fire), rather than spreading into the canopies (bad fire).





Carmel Valley fire mimicry phase 1 – clearing, thinning, and pruning

2 08 2022

These time lapse videos are of the fire mimicry work done with my coworkers over the past two days. Note how we are careful to remove the ladder fuels, so that any fires are more likely to stay on the ground (good fire), rather than spread into the canopy (bad fire). Enjoy!





More time-lapse videos of fire mimicry phase 1 – clearing, thinning, and pruning

29 07 2022

Today we applied fire mimicry treatments to several Ancestor oaks in Monterey, CA. These time-lapse videos show phase 1 were we clear the woody understory, thin the young trees, and prune the lower branches to improve the health of the oaks and remove the ladder fuels to prevent a ground fire from spreading into the canopy. Tomorrow we will implement phase 2 – Compost tea, soil minerals, and limewash. Just three of us working today, but we felt into the forces of fire and got a hella lot done! Please take the time to view these videos. To me they feel cathartic.





Two years of fire mimicry on coast live oaks in Salinas, CA

31 05 2022

Today I inspected a grove of coast live oaks that have received fire mimicry treatments for the past two years. The results generally show improvement in canopy density and lushness, with the exception of one oak (photo below) that made a remarkable recovery last year, but ended up succumbing this year to stress and disease. Note the last photo set of this post showing the canopy of a nearby untreated oak for comparison.

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Coast live oaks in Soquel, CA respond to fire mimicry

28 09 2021

Last September (2020) I treated 8 mature coast live oaks in Soquel, CA, with fire mimicry. We first pruned and cleared around the oaks, which was documented at the time in this post “Initial stages of fire mimicry in Soquel, CA”. We then spread compost tea and alkaline-rich minerals to the surrounding soils, and applied limewash to the trunks of the oaks. After one (drought) year, all 8 of the oaks are showing improvement in canopy density and lushness. Note that in Case No. 20200927.6 (below), this oak is severely infected with a stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) but is still showing a slight improvement in canopy health.

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Positive response of oaks to fire mimicry seen in just one year

16 06 2021

Last year we treated several canyon live oaks in Aptos, CA with fire mimicry. Here are the results …

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Update on stem canker surgery on coast live oak in Monterey, CA

15 06 2021

In June of 2018 I discovered two bleeding stem canker infections (possibly Sudden Oak Death) in an old coast live oak in Monterey, CA. I performed fire mimicry treatments on this tree, and surgically removed and cauterized the bleeding stem cankers. Below are photos showing the procedure and as well as the recovery of the wounds and canopy of the oak after three years. Enjoy!

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