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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Despite the drought, sick coast live oaks in Salinas, CA respond to fire mimicry

31 05 2021

Last year on this date I first treated several ailing coast live oaks with a fire mimicry protocol. To be honest, I was not optimistic about being able to help these oaks, which had been in decline for several years. Still, the owner wanted to try and I’m sure happy that he did. Today I inspected and re-photographed the oaks and, despite the different light conditions, found they have clearly shown improvement in canopy density and lushness. Note that the final oak in this series is UNTREATED.

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Oaks in Monterey, CA respond to fire mimicry

1 01 2021

Three years ago I began fire mimicry treatments on a grove of very sick coast live oaks in Monterey, CA. the photos (above and below) indicate that most of the oaks have responded nicely, showing improvement in canopy density and lushness. Note that one severely diseased oak below (Case No. 20171202.6) had a surgery and cauterization procedure that appears to have been successful. At least for these trees, 2020 has ended on a positive note!

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Oaks in Pacific Grove, CA respond to fire mimicry

2 10 2020

Two years ago I treated 21 coast live oaks with fire mimicry at Canterbury Woods, a senior retirement center in Pacific Grove, CA. Today I inspected the oaks and re-photographed them. Here are the results. Most of the oaks appear to have a denser canopy after two years. Please take a careful look at the photos and judge for yourself.

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Initial stages of fire mimicry in Soquel, CA

27 09 2020

The last few days my crew and I have been doing fire mimicry treatments in a grove of coast live oaks in Soquel, CA. Here are the before-and-after photos of the areas we cleared, mimicking indigenous ground fires. Ideally, these areas will not only protect nearby homes and structures, they will also keep the surrounding forests free of canopy fires. Thus, we are saving not only the homes, but the adjacent forests as well from catastrophic fires.

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Fire mimicry results with oaks in Carmel, CA

20 09 2020

Six years ago I began fire mimicry treatments on several coast live oaks in Carmel, CA. Three were infected with Armillaria disease, so I also surgically removed and cauterized the Armillaria stem cankers. Here are the results from a few says ago. Most of the oaks are showing denser, lusher canopies, and 2 out of the 3 Armillaria surgeries I performed appear to be successful.

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Monterey oak responds to stem canker surgery

23 06 2020

In June of 2018 I performed fire mimicry treatment of an old coast live oak in Monterey, CA. The work included the surgical removal and cauterization of a bleeding stem canker, possibly Sudden Oak Death. Below are photos showing the procedure and as well as the recovery of the oak after two years. Be sure to look at the last photo!







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 . . .


Hearst Castle oak – 2010


Fairfax oak – 2011

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Five-year results of fire mimicry on oaks in Carmel, CA – Part 2

30 09 2019

Part 2 of this post shows promising results in improving the health of an old coast live oak shown in the preceding post (Part 1) that was severely affected by a stem canker disease, possibly Sudden Oak Death, in 2014. Besides doing fire mimicry treatments I tried (experimentally, as I told the owner) a major surgical procedure that involved removing the infected tissue from the tree. The wound was then strongly cauterized and a mineral-based poultice was applied. One additional surgery to remove lingering infected tissue was done in May 2016. Here are before-and-after photos showing the initial surgical wound immediately after removal of infected tissue, but before cauterization and poultice, and the wound after 5 years.



While it may not be apparent in the photos, the large wound is showing no sign of lingering infection and it would appear that the disease is eradicated from this critical part of the tree.

At the same time the general health of this oak, as indicated by the foliage density of its canopy, has clearly improved. The following photo shows the canopy density of the two main branches of this oak over the past 5 years. It is too soon to know whether or not this is an exceptional case. But it sure encourages me to try major surgeries on other severely diseased oaks!