Diablo Recovery

Time — and Late Fall Rain — Revitalize Mount Diablo

January 5, 2015

On the last day of 2014, Joan Hamilton walked around Green Ranch Road on Mount Diablo to see what a full year, and some long-awaited rain, had done to the Morgan Fire burn area. (All photos by Joan Hamilton)


Whispering bells sprouted in profusion last year along this path through the burn area. But so far this year, chamise seedlings seem to have a head start.


A comparison of burned (on the right) and un-burned chaparral shows just how far those chamise seedlings have to go, though.graypine

Gray pines burned explosively in the Morgan Fire, and many, like this one, won’t recover.


The fire road, though, is littered with pine cones that have fallen from the dead trees.


And some of those pine seedlings have sprouted amongst the rocks and grasses.


Grasslands have bounced back quickly. This entire meadow was bare at the end of September 2013.


Fremont’s bush mallows, fire-following shrubs, are coming on strong on the mountain’s south side.


The dominant chaparral species on Mount Diablo, chamise, sprouts from its own charred remains.


This article is part of a monthly series of photos and articles on the transformation of Mount Diablo following the 2013 Morgan Fire, funded by special donations from Bay Nature readers. You can find our stories, as well as event listings, iNaturalist sightings, and magazine features, at baynature.org/diablo.


About the Author

Joan Hamilton is producer of Audible Mount Diablo, a podcast for people who love the outdoors and want to know more about the plants, animals, and history of the Bay Area. Her interest in fires was sparked by the 2013 Morgan Fire in Mount Diablo State Park. She wrote two articles and numerous web posts for Bay Nature about nature's recovery from that conflagration, and has been a fire follower ever since. Most recently, she's been working on Diablo Range Revealed, a series that explores life in the inland coast range after the SCU Lightning Complex fire. You can find evidence at savemountdiablo.org/learn/diablo-range-revealed/.