- Author: Alison L Kent
This summer, one of the largest fires in California history, the “Rim Fire,” has burned through 257,000 acres around Yosemite and is still not fully contained despite weekend rain. Whether started by lightning strikes, camper carelessness or arson, containing and putting out catastrophic wildfires is becoming a huge drain on the state’s resources.
Dr. Scott Stevens, a fire ecologist at UC Berkeley, wanted to test the hypothesis that ceanothus has a much harder time regenerating after winter and spring fires versus summer fires. Prescribed burns were conducted at Hopland REC and plant thinning using a mechanical device called a masticator was also studied. The study found that ceanothus regeneration was indeed slowed down, yet significantly it was not prevented entirely, by prescribed burns in winter/spring.
There is still much we don’t know about how fire affects ecosystems but thanks to research being conducted at the RECs, we’re learning more!