Upcoming Event: “Restoring Fire Safe Communities” Nov. 11-13, 2022 at Indian Canyon

2 10 2022

The “Restoring Fire Safe Communities” workshop at Indian Canyon next month (Nov. 11-13) is shaping up to be a stellar event. Along with my teachings on fire mimicry, our host Kanyon Sayers-Roods will be sharing some of her Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Cultural Competency. Tom Little Bear Nason, Esselen Tribal Elder, will be speaking on his experiences of the challenges and successes in managing his traditional lands here in Big Sur. All the while EcoCamp Coyote will be providing vegan meals and other logistics in environmentally-conscious ways.

Event details are here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/restoring-fire-safe-communities-tickets-358816077547

Hope to see you there!


Ancestor oaks show modest improvement after 2 years of fire mimicry protocol

23 05 2022

For the past two years I have been applying fire mimicry treatments to a grove of Ancestor oaks, ancient (300+ yr old) trees that have been pollarded and otherwise tended in the past by the Ohlone People for acorn production and other uses. Today, I inspected these oaks and see that most have made a modest, but noticeable improvement in canopy density, despite the current drought conditions. Please note the final photo set, which shows a neighboring oak that was not treated.

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Images from the Spring 2022 Fire Mimicry and TEK workshop at Indian Canyon

16 05 2022
Opening circle

This past weekend Sudden Oak Life, EcoCamp Coyote, and Indian Canyon Nation joined efforts to choreograph the second FIre Mimicry and TEK workshop. This hands on 3-day event was attended by over 30 enthusiastic participants who took a deep dive into the ecology of fire and the practice of fire mimicry in the context of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Our host and teacher of Indigenous knowledge was Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Mutsun Ohlone). Here are various images from the workshop. If you missed this event, please come to our Fall 2022 FIre Mimicry and TEK workshop at Indian Canyon in November.

An Ancestor oak at Indian Canyon treated with fire mimicry at the workshop
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Fire mimicry responses of 20 oaks in Soquel, CA

23 03 2022

In 2019 I began fire mimicry treatments on a grove of 20 coast live oaks in Soquel, CA, including several “Ancestor” oaks (ancient oaks that were pollarded and otherwise tended by the Ohlone people). Today, I inspected and re-photographed the oaks, with the results shown here. While most of the oaks show noticeable increase in canopy density (leaf area), a few of the oaks have shown little improvement, and one oak died in 2021. Still, I continue to be encouraged by these and other results. Enjoy!

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Ancestor oaks in Aromas, CA respond to fire mimicry

15 03 2022

Two years ago the crew and I performed fire mimicry treatments, including a few surgeries for stem canker infections (probably Sudden Oak Death), on a grove of ancient coast live oaks in Aromas, CA. Several of these were pollarded “Ancestor” oaks, remnants of a vast Ohlone acorn orchard. Today I inspected the oaks and found that most of them have responded favorably to the treatments with denser and greener canopies. Here are the before-and-after photos so you can judge for yourself.

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Sudden Oak Life event Spring 2022: Fire Mimicry and TEK at Indian Canyon (May 13-15)

11 03 2022

Indian Canyon Nation, EcoCamp Coyote, and Sudden Oak Life are collaborating again on an upcoming 3-day intensive workshop titled “Fire Mimicry and Traditional Ecological Knowledge” being held at Indian Canyon May 13-15, 2022. This event will feature Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Indian Canyon Nation, Mutsun Ohlone), Tom “Little Bear” Nason (Tribal Chairman of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County), Leo Lauchere (EcoCamp Coyote), and Lee Klinger (Sudden Oak Life). Here are some of the topics we will cover:

• How this restoration work supports and is informed by indigenous cultures and traditions

• Explore right-relationship with the land and its people

• History and shared lineages of the Esselen and Mutsun Ohlone People

• Modern cultural tending and management of Central Coast forests

• Identifying culturally modified trees and landscapes

• The science and practice of fire mimicry

• Demonstration of stem canker surgical procedure

This is a rare event and should not be missed by anyone passionate about tending oaks and other native trees. More information and registration for the event are here.

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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“Tending the Forest with Fire” at Indian Canyon

19 11 2021

Here’s an upcoming one-day workshop on “Tending the forest with fire” sponsored by Sudden Oak Life, the Central Coast Prescribed Fire Association, and EcoCamp Coyote at Indian Canyon, near Hollister, CA. Proceeds will go to the “Save Indian Canyon” fundraiser. Spaces are limited so please sign up soon!

For more information see the Eventbrite page.

Spreading the knowledge of Fire Mimicry and TEK

15 11 2021

Last night I returned home to Big Sur full of hope and joy after a successful “Fire Mimicry and Insights of Traditional Ecological Knowledge” workshop held at Indian Canyon over the weekend. About 60 truly fine and stellar people showed up! Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Costanoan Ohlone, Chumash) welcomed us warmly to Indian Canyon and skillfully held us accountable for our sacred relations to the land and people. Ruth Orta (Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok) generously shared stories of her family history and instructed us on traditional methods of acorn processing. Leo Lauchere, Ero Gorski, Jill Kunishige, and the rest of the crew of Ecocamp Coyote did a fantastic job of organizing the schedule and providing the necessary infrastructure. And all the while, Red prepared and served us the tastiest vegan meals imaginable!. Many thanks, too, to my loyal colleagues Giovanna Piumarta, Sprout Weinberger, Siena King, and Jorge Espinosa for showing up and sharing their fire mimicry knowledge and insights. If you missed the event, don’t worry, we’ll definitely be doing this again!

Also, there will a followup event on Sunday, December 5, 2021 at Indian Canyon where we will be holding a burn pile workshop. Prescribed fire expert Jared Childress and several of his colleagues will be there to help lead and teach us about fire safety and management. I’ll also be there sharing about fire mimicry. Watch this page for further details.

Here are images of some of the event highlights this past weekend …

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Stem canker surgery on an Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak

10 11 2021

Below is a time-lapse video of a stem canker surgery we did today on a pollarded, Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak in Portola Valley, CA. Note the removal of diseased tissue with axes and power multi-tools, cauterization, and poultice application. This was followed by a limewash application to the trunk, as well as compost tea and alkaline-rich mineral amendments to the soils. Enjoy!