Long-term response of oaks to fire mimicry

1 12 2017


Another milestone! For 13 years these coast live oaks have been regularly tended with fire mimicry. These oaks are longest continuous case studies of fire mimicry in my records. Most of the work has been done by Leith Carstarphen following my recommended treatment plan.

Apart from one oak that was lost this past year due to slope failure, the photos (above and below) show significant improvement in the canopy density and vitality of the oaks. The healthy growth of the smaller trees in the foreground now partially obstructs the view of the canopies of two oaks. Still, the oaks continue to grow and thrive, despite the presence of disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) in some of them.

Previous years’ results for these oaks can be found here for 2016, here for 2015, and here for 2014.


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Oaks in Marin respond to fire mimicry

15 09 2017


Here are the results of an oak grove in Fairfax, CA that has been treated with fire mimicry a couple of times over the past three years. Most of the oaks have responded nicely.

One tree at a time . . .

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Oaks in Fairfax, CA respond to fire mimicry (Part 2)

27 07 2017


While on my way to check on the oaks in the previous post, I happened upon another client whose oaks I treated with fire mimicry last September. I stopped to say “Hi” and mentioned that I would return in September for the one-year checkup, but he was anxious to see how his oaks were doing yesterday, so I took the time to¬† re-photogrpah his oaks, Here are the results after 10 months . . .


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Oaks in Fairfax, CA respond to fire mimicry (Part 1)

27 07 2017


Yesterday, in Fairfax, CA, I examined a number of coast live oaks that I treated with fire mimicry for the first time in July of last year. The first tree I examined was a a large oak that was severely diseased and near death last year. I told the owner that I did not think it could be saved, but he insisted I try. As you can see in the above photo my attempts to save the tree were unsuccessful. The oak came down in a storm this past January.

Fortunately, the owner had me treat his other oaks, some of which are infected with stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death). As you can see in the following photos, all are showing noticeable improvement in just one year. I’m happy to attribute some of this success to the plentiful rains this past winter, however, considering I’ve gotten similar results at the height of the recent drought (see Archives 2013 – 2016), I’m certain that the fire mimicry treatments are assisting in the recovery of these oaks.


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Oaks in Marin respond to fire mimicry

24 03 2017


On Monday I checked on three coast live oaks trees in Marin County, CA that I’ve been treating with fire mimicry for several years. The first case study (above and below photos) shows the recovery of a large oak after five years of ongoing¬† fire mimicry treatments. The canopy of this oak is clearly lusher and denser compared to the time of initial treatment.

To remind the reader, fire mimicry treatments are based on traditional forest management practices used by past and present native people in California and elsewhere. The treatments focus on creating habitat and soil conditions favorable for oaks and other native trees.


(Note that the pine tree behind this oak has since been removed.)

The next case study is a large coast live oak that has received ongoing fire mimicry treatments for three years, as well as several surgical procedures on stem cankers. When I first examined this oak it was severely defoliated and had several small stem cankers (possibly Sudden Oak Death disease) in the trunk. I told the owner that I was not sure the oak could be saved, but he insisted I try. It appears that the owner’s insistence has paid off. The oak has shown a noticeable improvement in canopy lushness and density (see photo sets below). Read the rest of this entry »

Diseased oaks flourishing after 12 years

29 11 2016


Twelve years ago today I initiated fire mimicry treatments on a grove of diseased coast live oaks in Marin County, CA. Since then Leith Carstarphen has been doing the followup work on these trees. Several of these oaks have stem canker infections, probably Sudden Oak Death disease. Two of the oaks in this grove have since died from stem canker infections, but the remainder of the oaks are clearly flourishing.

I should note that, for the above oak, the yellow appearance of the foliage in the recent (right) photo is due to dense clusters of yellowish male flowers.

These thriving oaks stand as testimony to the long-term efficacy of indigenous-based tending techniques (e.g., fire mimicry) in restoring the health of oak forests.