Upcoming talk – “The cultural modification of trees and forests by California’s Native Peoples”

4 11 2017
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Culturally modified madrone tree in Big Sur, CA

In January 2018 I will be giving a talk “Culturally modified trees and forests by California’s Native People“, co-sponsored by the Sempervirens Fund and REI. Details of the talk are here. The talk is free but you will need to sign up through Eventbrite. Hope to see you there!

 

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Oaks in Marin respond to fire mimicry

24 03 2017

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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.

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(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 »





Big Sur oaks respond to fire mimcry

13 03 2017

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Three years ago I began fire mimicry treatment on a grove of coast live oaks here in Big Sur. This is an area with serious oak decline problems, with many oaks having stem cankers (probably Sudden Oak Death). My crew and I did significant clearing and pruning of the oaks and fertilized the soils with compost tea and alkaline-rich minerals, and I performed stem canker surgeries on several of the oaks. The owner was adamant that we NOT apply a limewash to the trunks, due to the aesthetics of the white-trunk trees. The oaks were treated again in 2015 with compost tea and soil minerals.

Today I visited the oaks and re-photographed them. Here are the results. While most of the oaks showed a positive response, some did not. My sense is that limewashing the trunks would have given better results. Still, it is useful to see that clearing, pruning, compost tea, and soil minerals, without limewash, can benefit the oaks.

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Forest restoration after the 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County, CA

5 03 2017
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Forest devastation following the Valley Fire in Lake County. Photo taken in October 2015.

In 2015 a devastating wildfire consumed large areas of Lake County, California. Prior to the fires I had been working with some properties affected by the fires and soon afterwards I visited these areas, volunteering my time, to help guide the land managers on how best to manage their lands after the fires. Yesterday I heard back from one of my friends asking about specifics in restoring their forests. My response seems appropriate for a wider audience, so I am posting it here as general informati0n for those who have been affected by wildfires, as well as those who have not . . . Read the rest of this entry »





Diseased oaks flourishing after 12 years

29 11 2016

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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.

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Indigenous-based tending of oaks: eleven year results

23 11 2016

 

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Eleven years ago I began treating this grove of oaks in Hillsborough, CA using indigenous-based methods (ie. fire mimicry). These sets of photos show their response after 11 years of care.

These are very significant results in that they show that these methods result in long-term (decade+) sustained recovery of oaks that were in decline.

Oak lovers and tree huggers, please take notice! And, please, thank the native ancestors for showing us the way!

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This last oak has been pruned since the initial photo. Note also that the roofline has been altered by construction, obscuring part of the tree. This oak has been infected with a stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) for the entire period. Despite the disease infection, which has been reduced via fertilization and surgery, this tree remains in relatively good health.





California oak mortality reversed!

23 11 2016

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Here in California there’s been, rightfully, much attention paid to a recent report on the death of more than 100 million trees in the state. Sadly, there has been no talk of solutions, even in the face of clear evidence that prescribed fire and other indigenous-based tending practices (e.g. fire mimicry) improve forest health.

Today I offer, yet again, further evidence of our ability to address the death and decline of oak trees. The coast live oaks shown here are located in Redwood City, CA and were all treated with fire mimicry 3 years ago. Yesterday I revisited these oaks, some of them heritage oaks, and took photos to assess the changes in their canopies over that time. In my view, the decline of the oaks here has not only been abated, it has been reversed, as most of the oaks are showing a clear improvement in the fullness of their canopies.

How many more observations and studies of successful forest restoration efforts are required before more people start acting to save our trees?

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