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Post-fire Recovery at Big Creek, part IV

October 1, 2000 - August 24, 2001

By October of 2000, regrowth in the burn areas was well underway. On Highlands Peak, where the burn was particularly severe, regrowth was very distinctive. Stump-sprouting species (those with burls) such as Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Oak (Quercus sp.), Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) had resprouted from the base, with new shoots 1-2m tall. Species which do not sprout from the base (those without burls) such as Hoover's Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hooveri), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Jimbush (Ceanothus sorediateus), and Golden Fleece (Ericameria arborescens) had sprouted abundant seedlings. This shows two ways that dominant species recover and revegetate a severely burned area.


 New growth of redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) along Brunette Creek one year after the fire 10-22-00

 Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) in Brunette Canyon. Before the fire the ferns seldom displayed green fronds and seemed desiccated and brown most of the year. Now they are lush and green 10-22-00


 Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) regrowth and red poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) leaves 11-28-00

 Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) in Ceanothus sorediatus burnout 11-28-00

 Regrowth of wild peas (Lathyrus vestitus) in burn area. 11-28-00

 This hillside was severely burned, but the Ceanothus sorediatus is growing back quickly! 11-28-00

 Manzanita seedling (Arctostaphylos hooveri) Highlands Peak burn area 12-21-00

 Pine seedling (Pinus ponderosa) Highlands Peak burn area 12-21-00



 Oak seedling (Quercus wislizenii) Highlands Peak burn area 12-21-00

 Wild pea (Lathyrus vestitus) and Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) shoots, Highlands Peak 12-21-00
 Sprouting bunchgrasses (probably Calamagrostis koeleriodes) Highlands Peak 12-24-00

 New Golden Fleece bush (Ericameria arborescens) on Highlands Peak 12-24-00

 Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)sprouting (about 2m tall) 12-24-00
 Diverse regrowth along Gamboa Road 12-24-00


 Along the Interpretive trail (I38) is an unusual community with club moss (Selaginella bigelovii) and purple needlegrass (Nasella pulchra) dominant. The fire burned both but the needlegrass grew back immediately while the club moss is slower to recover. 2-27-01

 The fire line is centered along Dolan Ridge above. This picture shows burn (R) and unburned areas (L). A flock of wild turkeys was at the top of the photo on the right, but doesn't appear in the picture. 3-22-01

 Lupines and bunchgrass growing in the burn area on Dolan Ridge 3-27-01

 Lupines near highlands camp. Fire crews cleared the along Gamboa Road during the fire. Some of the regrowth includes a beautiful lupine bloom. 4-11-01


 Lupines in burn-area grasslands. 3-22-01


 In March strong winds blew down trees in the burn area. One 500m stretch of Brunette Creek had over 7 very large treefalls. Here, the upper, blackened tree had burned nearly all the way through the base. The wind toppled it and it knocked down a neighboring healthy tree. 3-22-01
 Keeping the trails open is a major job, complicated by treefalls and dangerous conditions. Here, Reserve Steward Feynner Arias works on a very large fallen redwood. 3-22-01


 Driving up the Gamboa Road, just after entering the burn area. Lush vegetative growth. Mostly Hedge Nettle (Stachys bullata) here. 4-27-01
 Massive stands of Wild Pea (Lathyrus vestitus) dominate the wooded areas burned in the fire. This is on the slopes north of Highlands Camp. 4-27-01

 Here is a closup of the pea mixed with the hedge nettle. 4-27-01

 This photo shows how huge and thick the wild pea can get. 4-27-01

 Along one road cut across from the Stewart leashold is a stand of Chia (Salvia columbariae). 4-27-01
 Here is a roadside stand of Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). 4-27-01



 Vegetative regrowth is rapid on Highlands Peak, where the burn among Jim Brush (Ceanothus sorediatus) was severe. The new jim brush plants all started from seed and now approach 1m tall. 4-27-01

 The fertilizer effect of "Phos-chek" fire retardant is very evident 1.5 years later in the grassland near Highlands Camp. The grass in the foreground is about 20 cm tall, while the dense growth in front of the mule is over 50 cm. 4-27-01

 The hill east of Highlands camp burned hot, and is now regrowing. 4-27-01

 This shows regrowth under a burnt-out thicket north of Highlands camp. 4-27-01

 Looking across Vicente Canyon to the burned areas to the southeast. They look pretty good from a distance. 4-27-01

 Burned slope south of Highlands Peak. Lots of Golden Fleece (Yerba pasma; Ericameria arborescens) is coming back. 4-27-01

 Annual lupines (Lupinus bicolor) line the road in some areas. 4-27-01

 Other roadsides have silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons). 4-27-01


 It has been very dry since April and now the wild peas (Lathyrus vestitus) are dying in the summer heat. 7-3-01

 Here the Everlasting (Gnaphalium sp.) are in full flower as the understory dries out near Highlands Camp. 7-3-01


 The fire line on Dolan Ridge is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding vegetation, and is dry and brown. (8-24-01)

 The wild peas (Lathyrus vestitus) are now completely dry and present an extreme fire hazard. In this area their dried stems and leaves blanket the ground 1-2 meters deep. (8-24-01)

For more recent photos and information, see Post fire recovery, part V

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