The Fire Ecology of Big Sur and  the Central Coast Ranges            Les Rowntree  Morro Bay Natural History Museum       ...
Today’s TalkBig Sur OverviewResources for FireEcologyFire Ecology 101: 4important pointsFire History (the last20,000 years...
Vegetation Communities       of Big SurMicro-climate         Chamise chaparralgradients: Bothelevation and coast   Coastal...
Reference Point: The Basin Complex Fire,June 21 - July 27 2008                        inversion with fog layer below
University of California         Press
$5.00 (Free to Members)VOL. 35, NO. 4 • FALL 2007FREMONTIAJOURNAL          OF     THE   CALIFORNIA   NATIVE   PLANT   SOCI...
Heyday Press
photo by David McNew
Fire Ecology 101 (1)A wide range of plant and plantcommunity responses to fire:       Fire Dependent: plants need fire to   ...
mature seed tree7-year old Bishop pine seedlings
Fire Ecology 101 (2)Plants and plant populations are adaptednot to fire itself but, instead, to fireregimes   A fire regime i...
Fire Ecology 101 (3a)Fire affects individual plants directlyand indirectly     Direct effects on the individual are a     ...
Fire Ecology 101 (3b)Indirect effects are the changes in thephysical and chemical environment of thesurrounding environmen...
colonization, and establishment of varied speciesThesechanges can differentially affect sprouting, growth, colonization,an...
chamise seedlings and stump sproutingmanzanita, Lick Fire (Lee Dittman photos)
Chaparral Seeders Lose WhileSprouters Gain When Fire FrequencyIncreases (4b)  Although chaparral is thought of as a fire en...
Changing Fire RegimesEnd of Pleistocene (Ice Age) andbefore humans, 20 - 12,000 bp.Period of “natural fire”Early to late Ho...
- 20,000 bp. Last Glacial                          Maximum (LGM)                          - Dry summer                    ...
Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CEClimate warms (withsome fluctuations) tocurrent stateWarmest period 8 ...
Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CE How and what do we know about Indian burning? Danger of conflating wh...
Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CE Reasons for burning: encourage specific plant species; eliminate comp...
Effects of Indian Burning         on Big SurThree groups: Ohlone; Esselen; SalinanCurrently, earliest dates for Big Sur ~5...
Spanish Mission Period,         1769-1830Introduction oflivestock and fieldcrops to Coast RangesExotic annual grassesDisrup...
Effects of Spanish   Settlement on Big SurNative Americans closeto San Antonio andCarmel missions mosteffectedPossibility ...
Mexican Rancho Period,       1830-1850Burning resumes withpasture-improvementmentalityLivestock expands withhide and tallo...
Mexican Rancho Period,       1830-1850Early Americansettlers appear,logging redwoods,harvesting tanoak,making charcoal for...
Early American Period,            1850-1906Might have been periodof greatest burning inCoast RangesAnd also greatest chang...
Logging in Coast Range Also Responsible  for Burning, Intentional and AccidentalFires set to clear slash away,facilitate t...
Effects in Big SurBig Sur isolated with only connections via ship, coastal trail toMonterey, and southern connection to Sa...
Fire Prevention and SuppressionBegins in the Coast Ranges, 19061906, Monterey and San Luis Obispo forest reservescreated. ...
Changes to NF fire prevention in the1930s:   • Trucks replace horses      Work begun on N-F road     and Highway 1 in 1931 ...
Changing Fire Regimes     in Big SurAccording to USFSrecords, the averagefigure for acreageburned changed from6700 acres in...
Recent Big Sur Fires2008, Basin-Indians   1977, Marble-Cone.Complex. (162,818 +   178,000 acres81,378 acres)              ...
The Basin    Complex Fire,    June 21 - July       27, 2008photo by Erichttps://picasaweb.google.com/eneitzel/BasinComplex#
Basin Complex FireCalifornia lightning event produced 6000ground strikes, resulting in 1000 fires innorthern CAEarly in the...
map of two fires, Gallery and Basin, 4 days intothe event
Fire retardant       and  watersheds(and steelhead)
Rizzo Lab,UC Davis
SOD did not increase intensity in allplots; canopy vs ground fires
September 2, 2008      and  April 6, 2009
September 2, 2008       and   June 6, 2009  Bottchers Gap
September 2, 2008      and   May 5, 2009
September2008    April 2009
June 2010
June 2010
April 2009
Fuelbreaks and firelines
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011
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Slide talk given by Les Rowntree at Morro Bay Natural History Museum, March 2011

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  • Fire ecology of big sur; March 2011

    1. 1. The Fire Ecology of Big Sur and the Central Coast Ranges Les Rowntree Morro Bay Natural History Museum March 21, 2011
    2. 2. Today’s TalkBig Sur OverviewResources for FireEcologyFire Ecology 101: 4important pointsFire History (the last20,000 years)The 2008 Big SurBasin Complex Fire
    3. 3. Vegetation Communities of Big SurMicro-climate Chamise chaparralgradients: Bothelevation and coast Coastal redwoodsto inland Mixed redwoods andCentral Coast Scrub hardwoodsMaritime chaparral Other conifers (both pine and fir)Coast Rangegrasslands Oak woodlands
    4. 4. Reference Point: The Basin Complex Fire,June 21 - July 27 2008 inversion with fog layer below
    5. 5. University of California Press
    6. 6. $5.00 (Free to Members)VOL. 35, NO. 4 • FALL 2007FREMONTIAJOURNAL OF THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY SPECIAL ISSUE: CHAPARRAL CALIFORNIA CHAPARRAL MANZANITAS FREEZING AND CHAPARRAL PATTERNS CHAPARRAL AND FIRE CHAPARRAL BULBS AND FIRE THE COST OF LIVING WITH CHAPARRAL POST-FIRE RECOVERY OF CHAPARRAL IN SAN DIEGO VOLUME 35:4, FALL 2007
    7. 7. Heyday Press
    8. 8. photo by David McNew
    9. 9. Fire Ecology 101 (1)A wide range of plant and plantcommunity responses to fire: Fire Dependent: plants need fire to reproduce (knobcone and Bishop pines) Fire Enhanced: plants expand population with fire, but also reproduce without it (oaks) Fire Neutral: fires neither expand or limit plant populations (Douglas fir) Fire Inhibited: fire is detrimental to plants (Santa Lucia fire)
    10. 10. mature seed tree7-year old Bishop pine seedlings
    11. 11. Fire Ecology 101 (2)Plants and plant populations are adaptednot to fire itself but, instead, to fireregimes A fire regime is the frequency, magnitude, spatial extent, and seasonality of a series of fires Magnitude is intensity (amount of energy released) and severity (impact on the ecosystem
    12. 12. Fire Ecology 101 (3a)Fire affects individual plants directlyand indirectly Direct effects on the individual are a function of fire behavior and individual plant’s morphology and physiology Morphology refers to plant structure (shape, height, placement of seeds and buds, root structure) Physiology refers to production and regulation of chemicals within plant tissue
    13. 13. Fire Ecology 101 (3b)Indirect effects are the changes in thephysical and chemical environment of thesurrounding environment in terms ofnutrients, light, soil substrate andchemistry, and microclimate of the plantcommunity. These changes can differentially affect sprouting, growth, colonization, and establishment of varied species
    14. 14. colonization, and establishment of varied speciesThesechanges can differentially affect sprouting, growth, colonization,and Fire Ecology 101 (4a) of Seeding and sprouting are the main ways plants and trees recover from (and, through time, adapt to) fire Some species such as chamise actually do both, spread seed AND root sprout Additionally, within the chaparral community, some species of the two major genera, Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus, spread seeds while other species root sprout Redwoods also both seed and/or sprout after a fire
    15. 15. chamise seedlings and stump sproutingmanzanita, Lick Fire (Lee Dittman photos)
    16. 16. Chaparral Seeders Lose WhileSprouters Gain When Fire FrequencyIncreases (4b) Although chaparral is thought of as a fire enhanced community, it can suffer and actually diminish as fire regimes change Shrubs dependent on fire-cued seed germination were most sensitive to frequent fire and lost substantial cover to other functional types, including drought- deciduous sub-shrubs that typify coastal sage scrub and nonnative annual grasses. (Keeley) Seed banks needing a certain amount of time to age in the soil before they can germinate. Chaparral seeds don’t respond to heat itself but rather to gasses in smoke. That may be true of other seeders too
    17. 17. Changing Fire RegimesEnd of Pleistocene (Ice Age) andbefore humans, 20 - 12,000 bp.Period of “natural fire”Early to late Holocene, 12,000 bp to1769; period of Native AmericanburningModern historical period, fromSpanish missions to present day
    18. 18. - 20,000 bp. Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) - Dry summer Mediterranean climate - Sea level ~ 400 ft lower - All plant species represented, but inart by Laura Cunningham different configurations and with different distributions - No humans in CA (as far as we know) - Lightning and volcanoes only source of ignition
    19. 19. Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CEClimate warms (withsome fluctuations) tocurrent stateWarmest period 8 -3 kyaSea level rises to currentstate ~ 4000 bpGrazing megafaunaextinct (change ingrasslands?)
    20. 20. Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CE How and what do we know about Indian burning? Danger of conflating what little we know into all-encompassing generalizations Native Americans cultures changed continually during this long period of time, thus reasonable to assume their strategies and methods of burning also changed
    21. 21. Period of Native AmericanBurning, 12,000 bp - 1769 CE Reasons for burning: encourage specific plant species; eliminate competiting species; clean up the landscape by ridding it of pests, brush, and snags; fire used to expand grassland habitat for hunted animal and bird species; enhance fertility by recycling nutrients; encourage acorn growth and harvest, etc. Result: pyrodiversity from frequent low intensity fires Environments most changed: grassland/shrub interface; oak woodlands; perhaps chaparral
    22. 22. Effects of Indian Burning on Big SurThree groups: Ohlone; Esselen; SalinanCurrently, earliest dates for Big Sur ~5000 bpInferences about settlement patternsand densityConjecture regarding effects on plantcommunities vegetation communities
    23. 23. Spanish Mission Period, 1769-1830Introduction oflivestock and fieldcrops to Coast RangesExotic annual grassesDisruption of NativeAmerican societyBan on Indian burning,1793
    24. 24. Effects of Spanish Settlement on Big SurNative Americans closeto San Antonio andCarmel missions mosteffectedPossibility of remnantgroups of Indians in theBig Sur interiorEffect on plantcommunities? Grasslandchange begins. Oakwoodlands and animals
    25. 25. Mexican Rancho Period, 1830-1850Burning resumes withpasture-improvementmentalityLivestock expands withhide and talloweconomyCommon that NativeAmericans act as laborforce with cattle herds
    26. 26. Mexican Rancho Period, 1830-1850Early Americansettlers appear,logging redwoods,harvesting tanoak,making charcoal foriron forgesAll of these activitiesincrease incidence offire in Coast Rangesand enhance grasslandspecies change
    27. 27. Early American Period, 1850-1906Might have been periodof greatest burning inCoast RangesAnd also greatest changein plant communitieswith exotic speciesspreading rapidly in grassand shrub lands, aided byfire and plowed fieldsSheep, cattle, and wheatcultures all burned grassand shrub lands The wild and wooly West
    28. 28. Logging in Coast Range Also Responsible for Burning, Intentional and AccidentalFires set to clear slash away,facilitate transport of logs,and open forest for tanbarkharvesting
    29. 29. Effects in Big SurBig Sur isolated with only connections via ship, coastal trail toMonterey, and southern connection to Salinas ValleySome redwood loggingWheat cultivation on northern marine terraces (Palo Colorado)May not have been much free range livestock because oftopographyEarliest settlers had different attitudes about using fire to clearpastureLarge fires recorded in newspapers. In 1894, reports of a fire“burning for weeks” covering upper watersheds of centralSanta Lucia mountains. Around 50,000 acres burned inhuman-caused fire in July 1903, and 150,000 acres in 1906
    30. 30. Fire Prevention and SuppressionBegins in the Coast Ranges, 19061906, Monterey and San Luis Obispo forest reservescreated. These became national forests in 1907 1919, merger of Monterey, SLO, and Santa Barbara national forests into SBNF 1938, name changed to Los Padres NFAlthough fire prevention and suppression are policy,question is whether this was effective right awayIf so, the incidence of fires lessened, and fuel buildupbegins. Or did happen only later?
    31. 31. Changes to NF fire prevention in the1930s: • Trucks replace horses Work begun on N-F road and Highway 1 in 1931 • Lookout system 3 in Big Sur area of LPNF • CCC labor for prevention and suppression • Argument can be made that effective fire suppression only began in 1930s
    32. 32. Changing Fire Regimes in Big SurAccording to USFSrecords, the averagefigure for acreageburned changed from6700 acres in pre-waryears to 400 acres inthe 1960sDid this lead to a fuelbuild up that fueledmore recent largefires?
    33. 33. Recent Big Sur Fires2008, Basin-Indians 1977, Marble-Cone.Complex. (162,818 + 178,000 acres81,378 acres) 1970, Buckeye.1999, Kirk Complex. 60,000 acres87,000 acres (lightning-ignited)1985, Rat Creek-Gorda. 80,000 acres
    34. 34. The Basin Complex Fire, June 21 - July 27, 2008photo by Erichttps://picasaweb.google.com/eneitzel/BasinComplex#
    35. 35. Basin Complex FireCalifornia lightning event produced 6000ground strikes, resulting in 1000 fires innorthern CAEarly in the fire seasonFollowed two years of drought thatresulted in dry fuel throughout Big SurChanging wind and humidity conditionsduring month of fire
    36. 36. map of two fires, Gallery and Basin, 4 days intothe event
    37. 37. Fire retardant and watersheds(and steelhead)
    38. 38. Rizzo Lab,UC Davis
    39. 39. SOD did not increase intensity in allplots; canopy vs ground fires
    40. 40. September 2, 2008 and April 6, 2009
    41. 41. September 2, 2008 and June 6, 2009 Bottchers Gap
    42. 42. September 2, 2008 and May 5, 2009
    43. 43. September2008 April 2009
    44. 44. June 2010
    45. 45. June 2010
    46. 46. April 2009
    47. 47. Fuelbreaks and firelines

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