What will happen after the Yosemetie fires are put out?

ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)August 29, 2013

I'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but will trees ever be able to grow there again?

Seeing the fire day after day, and thinking of all those trees, and the animals living in them, dying, is heartbreaking.

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scotjute

Yes trees will regrow there again. Typically grass/weeds resprout/return first. Then trees return in patchy spots. The land will likely go from some sort of open prairie to open savanah and then back to a young woodlands. May take 20-50 yrs. just to achieve tree cover. Sometimes the types of trees change from what was there prior to fire.

If you are asking about Sequoias, once they reach a certain age they are somewhat fire-resistant. With fire-extinguishing/insulating bark about a foot thick, they are able to survive fires which is why they can live for such long periods of time.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:34AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it will regenerate itself.. like all forests do ..

most likely eventually screwed up by some people who think they can do it better than mother nature ....

i would vote to leave it alone.. and let her do it herself....

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Likely forest succession details varies with individual site conditions (soil, exposure, mix of species present nearby...) and general circumstances like weather patterns that affect that site after the fire.

Sierra redwood produces fire-resistant bark in age, giant individuals survive normal fires and reseed burns afterward. Douglas fir does this also, with big trees hanging on through perhaps centuries without severe enough fires to clear away the smaller, competing trees of different species - waiting for the time when this does happen, and a sunny seed bed fertilized by ashes becomes available.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 11:36AM
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smivies

Those forests have always been adapted to a fire regime....it is only in the last 50-60 years with fire suppression that problems have started.

Long story short...the lightest seeds; Lodgepole Pine, Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, Firs, & Douglas Fir will colonize first, followed by the heavier seeds of Jeffery Pine, California Foothills Pine, Oaks, etc.

If this had been a less intense fire, you would see Jeffery Pine and California Foothills Pine sooner but the Jays now have to bring them in from a long way off. Hopefully the Forest Service will see fit to practice some 'assisted colonization' to get the right species in the right places, sooner.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 3:12PM
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greenthumbzdude

many trees out west have evolved with fire..........they actually need fire in order to disperse seed. For example in Giant Sequoias high temperatures force cones to open releasing seeds. Trees that are not fire adapted are killed and replaced by those that are. Smoky the Bear is evil.....regular forest fires create healthy forests. It when they are suppressed that things can get out of control and become a danger to people.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:18PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I visited Yosemite last Fall. They were doing controlled burning In the Mariposa Sequoiadendron grove.
Sub-alpine trees don't have thick bark because there are few fires in their environment. Same with bottom land trees.
Mike

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:58PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

> I'm sorry if this is a dumb question, but will trees ever be able
> to grow there again?
>
> Seeing the fire day after day, and thinking of all those trees,
> and the animals living in them, dying, is heartbreaking.

I'm going to do a little ranting now. The American educational system fails in many respects, the natural processes of the earth being one of them. Fire is absolutely 100% natural in the forest, ESPECIALLY in the western United States. They run those Smokey Bear commercials over and over, but in the West many, in some areas the vast MAJORITY, of fires are naturally caused by lightning. That's just a climatic reality of the West: Summers are hot and dry in many areas, with storms that often produce meager amounts of rain but can be very efficient at producing lightning. This means you get fire. Its been this way for thousands if not millions of years.

Trees grow back. As mentioned by others above, human involvement has only helped fires get BIGGER because of suppression. Granted at this point, with so many people stupidly moving into the middle of wooded natural areas, there is little choice but to suppress or risk large scale property destruction, but it just makes things worse.

I live in the Great Basin, an area which sees hundreds if not thousands of natural fires in any given year. In the past, most of these would burn naturally, but now they are heavily suppressed in almost all cases. This has caused Nevada to go from a grassland-dominated state to a sagebrush-dominated state. And, BTW, do you think bushes burn hotter and larger than grass? You betchya! But now that Nevada is a big rangeland, full of cattle, there is little choice... cattle are slow and are often killed or injured by wildfire, and the ranchers make a stink about it every time.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 2:01AM
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edlincoln(6A)

Many trees need fire. When you prevent fires, it actually changes the mix of the forest. Out East, Eastern Red Cedar is way more common because of the lack of forest fires. (Apparently they go up like candles. They do great in areas developed by humans because they love road salt, highways make great firebreaks, and birds spread their seeds to median strips. One of their chief competitors needs fire to germinate.)

There are plants that can grow back from underground roots, plants with seeds that are VERY fire resistant and don't germinate until after they've been heated by a fire. Ashes make great fertilizer, and fire clears away the shade. I know blueberries thrive where there has been a fire.

The one catch is...this system doesn't work where there is only a small patch of natural forest. Plants move in from unburned areas, but if all the unburned areas are developed, then you have a problem. If you reserve a small forest as the only nature preserve where certain native animals have their habitat, it's a problem if that forest burns. (That's part of the reason for "Smokey the Bear"). I think there is enough natural forest in that area to repopulate the burned areas.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 11:09AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

smiv said:

Hopefully the Forest Service will see fit to practice some 'assisted colonization' to get the right species in the right places, sooner.

==>> and there begins mans attempts to outwit mother nature.. idiots ...

and as to fam's rant...

===>> i agree.. life is NOT a disney movie ...

ken

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

In big tree parts of the inter-mountain west the main problem is abnormal frequency of crown fires due to fire suppression allowing forest succession to proceed much more generally than under natural circumstances. Entire forests burn down because there are layers of trees and shrubs between the canopy and the grass layer, instead of a pine parkland with fires that sweep through the grass and other small plants without getting up into and killing most of the trees of much size.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 2:55PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

Thank you everyone, for your responses.

The U.S. Forest Service said today that the fire was caused by an illegal fire set by a hunter.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:26PM
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drpraetorius(7)

As has been said above, the forest will regrow. If you want some photographic hope, look up the Yellowstone fires and see how that area has recovered.

Out here in the west, our forests need fire to refresh themselves. The cones of lodgepole pine cannot open without being heated first to melt off the resin. In the giant Sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada, foresters where wondering why they were not seeing new seedlings from the Sequoias. When fires were allowed back into the ecology, new seedlings were sprouting everywhere. The undergrowth and organic matter had built up on the ground and were choking the seedlings.

Fire here is necessary but also controversial. The Forest Service now has a policy of let it burn unless structures are in danger. That is seen by some as a waste. The Forest Service will also intentionally set controlled burns. These have been known to get out of control and cause a great deal of damage.

Smokey Bear used to say, "Only you can prevent forest fires" Now he says "Only you can prevent wild fires." That represents a major change of thought in our forest management thinking.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 5:49PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

...which, amusingly, still isn't true, since in some places like Nevada, the majority of fires are from lightning!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 6:21PM
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