WINTER in Southern California is defined by the arrival of winter storms bringing rain at lower elevations, and often snow over 5000 ft. Winter is a good time to care for your soil - in burned areas, erosion can be a problem. In fuel management zones, the retention of deep -rooted vegetation during spring fire hazard reduction projects should stabilize slopes.
- In the short term, make sure that water and debris are channeled away from your home and property or on to lower-value portions of your property, but not onto your neighbor’s property! Evaluate your topography, and if possible, take advantage of the natural flow patterns. Do not try to dam water and prevent flow entirely. Ditches can be dug to accommodate larger than usual flows, and sandbags can be used to build small levees to guide flows. Contact your local fire or public works agency for more information.
- Seeding hillsides after a fire is usually not effective in Southern California. Often, seeds won’t germinate and develop roots to hold soil until rains have already arrived, and in many circumstances that may be too late. Seeding may also contribute to invasive species problems, type conversion, and the loss of habitat. Straw bales and organic mulches may be more effective. Choose weed-free straw to avoid problems down the road!
- In the long term, fire-adapted native plants will often recover within the first few months to few years after a fire, even if they look scorched. If trees on your property were scorched, try to wait as long as possible to see if they will recover – only remove burnt trees that pose an immediate hazard. Even if they do not recover, dead snags can provide important habitat for animals that have lost their homes to fire.
- Burned areas are prone to invasion by non-native weeds. Often, control of invasive plants is the most important action that can be taken to promote recovery of wildlands.
Fire recovery in Vasquez Rocks County Park, Agua Dulce
- Revegetation, such as tree planting, is often unnecessary and expensive. If replanting is needed, choose plant species, and even seeds, from local areas to protect the genetic diversity of sites. Planting trees can be harmful to the recovery of shrubland ecosystems. In some places, patience is the most effective recovery tool.