Monday, July 11, 2016

Red Car Property & Adjacent Lots: Trees Not Looking Good 3 Weeks After Silver Lake Fire

Photo: Gary Vlahakis, July 9, 2016.  Do you know where your property lines are?  The entire neighborhood is still at risk from the now dry trees on and adjacent to the Red Car Property and the 2 Freeway.  Scroll down to the last photo for what this scene looked like before the June 19, 2016, Silver Lake Fire.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 20, 2016.  A day after the fire, it just looked like too good a job of brush clearance was done on the slope as the ash washed away by the sheer volume of water that was poured on site to keep flare ups at bay.

The non-native pine, palm and eucalyptus trees did not fare well.  However there was hope since the native Coast Live Oak, Black Walnut and even Blue Elderberries as well as even some of the hardier non-natives still had a lot of green leaves on their branches the next day. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 19, 2016.  When the smoke cleared you could see daylight through trees where you'd never seen it before.  After the fire was out, everyone was just grateful to still have homes on Lake View, Silver Ridge, Riverside Place and Corralitas Drive. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 21, 2016.  As we've now seen, failure to do brush clearance puts the entire neighborhood at risk.  There's a reason the LAFD calls it the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ).  Seriously, brush clearance is not just about clearing the dry grass.  It's about trimming the trees up from the ground and proximity of shrubs to combustible structures like wooden fences and sheds. 

Have your  trees assessed by a certified arborist.  Since the trees did not initially burn in the fire, at least the native Coast Live Oaks and California Black Walnuts should survive.  We just need to manage the trees responsibly, so we don't have increased fire risk and we don't cause more harm to the trees while they recover.  This was not a major wildland forest fire.  After the last fire in 2014, the Black Walnuts were regenerating. Native trees evolved with our drought/fire/deluge seasons. I am not a tree expert.  You should consult one with a knowledge of fire ecology of native trees.  

Links to post-fire recovery of native trees: 
US Forest Service - Coast Live Oak
UC California - Oak Woodland Management
US Forest Service - CA Black Walnut

We'll be looking at more depressing before/after photos of dry trees in the Silver Lake Fire burn area in the coming days.