- Author: Donovan Hill
- Author: Kathleen Mowdy
Disturbance. In ecological terms, when a wildfire rages across wild lands, there is a disturbance - a change in the environmental conditions that disrupts the functioning of an ecosystem. The process by which an ecosystem changes over time following a disruption is known as ecological succession, and it takes a very long time. Too long.
Last year, I wrote an article about our fire recovery efforts in Butte County. We worked hard and accomplished a lot in three fire zones, but restoration is not “one and done.” It takes persistence. Many of the “wildlings” (small wild seedlings) that we transplanted in the Ponderosa Fire zone did not survive the hot summer months. We knew we would need to go back the following spring and plant again, and we were determined.
Then, in November 2018, the Camp Fire raged through 153,000 acres in Butte County. After the most destructive wildfire in California history, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of recovery work, knowing it would be a long time before the Camp Fire zone would even be ready for replanting. But we had our plan to follow up on our work in the Ponderosa Fire zone. This time, we had fir, pine and cedar seedlings donated by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI). We knew these seedlings would have a better chance of survival.
Two foresters from SPI delivered the seedlings, provided instruction on optimal planting techniques, and worked with our crews. Many Feather Falls residents also helped with the planting, including members of the Concow-Maidu of Mooretown Rancheria, whose lands were burned in the Ponderosa Fire.
After the planting was completed, we gathered for a tasty picnic lunch provided by Mooretown Rancheria. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful spring weather and feeling of accomplishment.
Since we completed the planting, we have had frequent rain that will give the seedlings a good chance to survive. Building on this success, Oroville Foothill 4-H Fire Recovery Project is already making plans for next year. We hope to arrange for donations of fruit, nut, and ornamental trees for the families who are rebuilding in the Camp Fire communities of Paradise, Magalia, Concow, and Pulga.
As we wrap up our Fire Recovery Project this year and enter another fire season, we are hoping there will be no more “disturbances” to our wild lands. But we will be here with the help of our community, persisting in the best kind of collaboration - caring for our world!