Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Red Car Property: Coast Live Oaks Recovering After Silver Lake Fire

Photo: Diane Edwardson, October 12, 2016.  All of the Coast Live Oaks on the south end of the Red Car Property are recovering from the fire earlier this summer.  All are showing new growth despite the canopy of dry leaves.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

In the weeks immediately after the June 19, 2016, Silver Lake Fire, neighbors watched nervously as trees that did not burn in the fire, rapidly turned brown, but did not drop their leaves, including the protected native Coast Live Oaks and Black Walnuts.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, October 9, 2016.  From a distance, the trees look dry, but if you look closely, all have new growth.  It's best to walk up and under them to really see how hardy and how large these trees are.

Back in July,
I "asked an oak expert" via University of California's Oak Planner's portal. I included photos of the trees and I received a quick response from Gregory A. Giusti, U.C. Agricultural and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension Director for Lake/Mendocino Counties,

 "Though they did not burn (flames in the canopy) it appears from your pictures that they were exposed to “heat”. It’s quite possible that the intensity of the fire created enough heat to literally cook the cambial layer on these trees….or at least the branches and twigs. I suspect the live oaks will sprout, if they haven’t done so already."

Guisti and several Black Walnut experts concurred that property owner(s) with fire damaged trees (in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone) should consult LAFD for brush clearance guidelines and that trimming back the dry branches and leaves was ok to reduce the further risk of fire.  However, it is best to consult a licensed arborist.