Adapting to Changing Wildfires: Part Two
Oct 30, 2020 at 12:29 pm #3681689Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
In part two of his essay series on modern wildfires, Rex Sanders explores how backpackers must adapt to the new normal.Feb 13, 2021 at 12:38 pm #3699253
More on wildfires and local water pollution in this LA Times story from Santa Cruz County, California:
“Every storm that has occurred since the fire has caused the water to run black for a few days, so I know runoff is making it into the water”
A local water district is using groundwater instead of previously-better surface water, but that’s not sustainable during a long-term drought.
“We are learning that there’s a lot we really don’t know.”
— RexFeb 14, 2021 at 9:18 am #3699377HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
What is the regeneration time for the flora typically?
Hiking the Angeles NF the past summer (PCT sections), I met another hiker claiming to have been a firefighter on one of those fires about a decade ago (+/-) who said the burnt area seemed far better off (assuming he meant in comparison when it actually wasn’t on fire). The big problem is the next few years is erosion as ecological succession takes place (first plant species to stabilize the soil -> helps support larger shrubs and trees later on). Other western areas used oats as an annual ground cover to assist soil reformation in the first year or 2 of recovery.
Of course California also had big winter rain years in 2017 and 2019 with a decent 2018 .. after several years of drought or dryness.Feb 14, 2021 at 1:16 pm #3699414
In brief: post-wildfire “recovery” is different everywhere, even within California, even within a mile or two.
Plus recovery can be measured in many different ways, and the metrics frequently don’t correlate. Fires can be patchy, vegetation isn’t uniform, animals aren’t uniform, water quality will vary, and geohazards like debris flows and landslides can be very site specific.
Even what helps in some places, like planting oats or other fast-growing plants, can be useless or detrimental in other areas.
As much as we might like simple answers, they are in short supply. If I could snap my fingers and return to a pre-industrial climate tomorrow, we’d still have serious wildfire-related problems in California for many other reasons.
— RexMar 6, 2021 at 4:23 pm #3702962
Invasive grass is overwhelming U.S. deserts — providing fuel for wildfires
You aren’t safe from wildfires just because you hike in the desert. This article describes the mostly-losing battle with buffelgrass across the Sonoran Desert in the southwest U.S.
Arizona in 2020 had a very bad, no good wildfire season, in part due to buffelgrass and other rapidly spreading plants that are not native to the area. And the Dome fire devastated most of Mojave National Preserve in southern California for similar reasons.
Deserts historically didn’t support large wildfires. The native plants and animals are not adapted to those burns. So these fires often devastate the ecosystem – leaving wide open spaces for more rapidly-spreading, non-native plants and animals.
Mountains, deserts, valleys, even swamps are becoming more susceptible to massive wildfires for many reasons.
Be safe out there. And speak up for proper management of your favorite wildlands – whatever and wherever they are.
— RexMar 6, 2021 at 7:41 pm #3702991
My bad: The Dome fire burned more than half the wilderness area in Mojave National Preserve, and scorched more than 1.3 million Joshua trees. About 90% will die.
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