Scarlet bugler blooming atop Kreiger Peak, 2007. Photo by Heath Bartosh

Chasing the Fire Followers

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Botanist Heath Bartosh, co-founder of Nomad Ecology, gained an early appreciation for the rich botanical wealth of the Golden State.

Coe’s Fire Followers

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The 2007 Lick Fire was a firestorm that consumed 47,000 acres, most of it in Henry W. Coe State Park, east of Gilroy. Just days after the fire, park volunteers were on the scene. Two years later the “fire followers” of Coe Park are still at it, and even in the face of park budget cuts, they hope to keep their research going for years to come.

Big Sur fire

Forged by Fire

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We know that wildfire is a key part of the ecology of the Bay Area and has played a major role in shaping our landscapes. Yet it’s simply not possible to let fires burn naturally in an urban region such as ours. But just to the south, the 240,000-acre Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur is large and remote enough to allow for the return of a natural fire regime. That’s what has happened over the past 30 years as a series of lightning-ignited wildfires has helped shape both a living laboratory of fire ecology and an increasingly diverse landscape.

Point Reyes Mycoblitz

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Scientists and fire ecologists will be studying the cause and effects of these fires for years, and that includes taking a close look at fungi in the soil. As reported in Bay Nature‘s July-September 2005 issue, UC Berkeley microbiologist Tom … Read more

Wildfire in California

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On the first day of summer, a thunderstorm crackled across much of California. Eight thousand lightning strikes ignited over 2,000 fires that burned more than 1.1 million acres by late July. California ecosystems have evolved with lightning-induced fires, but the … Read more

The Bright Side of Fire

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Hot days and a dry year mean major fire danger in the Bay Area. But many plants are adapted to fire, and some even need it to reproduce. Even so, there’s a lot we don’t know about the natural rhythms of fire.

Fire Ecology Resources

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Organizations The California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) fosters the creation of local and county Fire Safe councils; they provide information and resources to help protect communities from wildfires. The CFSC also maintains a comprehensive website (www.firesafecouncil.org) that serves as a … Read more

Wild Gardens

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A visit to remnant native grasslands in Richmond or diverse oak woodlands in eastern Alameda County gives a taste of our region’s native habitats. But few of us are aware of an important element that helped shape those habitats: the regimes of burning, pruning, and digging carried out over centuries by the East Bay’s indigenous inhabitants, some of whom still carry on those traditions today.

A Landscape Renewed by Fire

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Enter the woods on Inverness Ridge and pause for a moment to listen. Natural history weaves itself into stories for those willing to hear—whether teased from the patterns in stone, distilled from the rings of a tree, or gathered from … Read more