Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Monument Burn at Coe Park; Two Weeks Later

On November 19, Henry W. Coe Park staff along with professionals from the State Park Monterey District, CalFire and other state & local agencies conducted a prescribed burn in a 630 acre area close to Park Headquarters and bordered by Manzanita Point Road, Hobbes Road and the Little Fork of Coyote Creek.  These photos were taken on December 5.  
[Manny Pita, 2015]

Prescribed burns are used to revitalize natural landscape processes and reduce fuel load.  Fire has always been a normal change agent in  California ecosystems and we use prescribed burning to control the extent of fire and amount of change within a desirable range. Manzanita Pt. Rd NW of Grand Junction.  Burn on right; unburned on left.

Fire naturally occurs in cycles, perhaps every 10-20 years in the Coe area. Here, the Old Corral was within the prescribed burn section but was deliberately left unburned because it is an important cultural feature in the park.  

Regeneration after a burn can happen quickly.  We aim to manage the burn's heat and intensity so plant roots and seeds in the soil are not damaged even if their leaves are burned.

Specialized firestarter tools allow for safety and efficiency.

Walking the Forest Trail gives a up-close and personal view of immediate fire effects.  Here, you can see that the burn was patchy, not affecting the entire landscape.  Already fallen leaves are adding new organic material to the forest floor.

Little bits of greenery show the power of plants to persevere.

When a stump smolders, fire can burn the roots and create what a fanciful imagination might see as magical passageways into the earth itself.  There are  two or three instances like this on the Forest Trail.  

Many plants in fire-adapted habitat have special protective structures and processes that allow them to spring back after a burn. Madrones often have a thick storage area at their base that protects nutritional materials and promotes post-fire growth.   

Prescribed burns are done when environmental conditions are exactly right, including wind speed & direction, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric conditions.  Thank you Mason and Chris for leading this Coe MeetUp walk through the burn area!

A tip of the hat to Mother Nature; hug a tree this week!