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Restoration & Monitoring of Central Coast Vegetation


By Julie Evens and Alexis LaFever-Jackson

Henry Cowell Fall Creek Unit Photograph: Julie Evens

Final spring/summer season of 2021, 4 CNPS employees, together with over 50 college students and volunteers from UC Santa Cruz and past, spent six weeks conducting vegetation assessments in 5 state parks of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Vary—an space swept by latest fires. In 2020, the CZU Lightning Advanced fires burned State Park lands in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties; additionally in 2020, the SCU Lightning Advanced fires within the Diablo Vary in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus counties.

CNPS vegetation employees at Henry Cowell Fall Creek Unit Photograph: Rosa Schneider, State Park Ecologist

Our 2021 efforts included 40+ post-fire vegetation samples, and 17 long-term monitoring (LTM) Redwood forest plots (together with 10 unburned and seven burned forest websites). The LTM Redwood plots include knowledge on the completely different redwood forest sorts, tree mortality or different impacts, and the forests’ capability to get better. Throughout an August 2021 website go to, we discovered extra crops resprouting and germinating within the redwood forests than 5 months earlier at 2 LTM websites: Henry Cowell State Park (SP), which included a better variety of crops rebounding there, and in Massive Basin SP. 

At Massive Basin SP, we documented frivolously to severely burned redwood forests, plus severely burned knobcone pine woodlands and chamise shrublands. At Henry Coe SP, we discovered frivolously to closely burned knobcone pine, ponderosa pine, and oak woodlands. Knowledge throughout these areas already present that even all through a extreme drought yr following the extreme fires, many seedlings and resprouting crops are returning en masse. Some mature timber have been considerably impacted, whereas others haven’t.

 

We look ahead to persevering with the challenge this spring 2022 to doc the resiliency and restoration of redwood forests, oak woodlands, chaparral and grassland habitats of the areaparticularly for the reason that rainfall is extra important this fall/winter as in comparison with final yr. Returning to LTM plots can be of utmost significance to trace the dynamics over time. These surveys are a significant snapshot in time. 

“Every plant species responds otherwise post-fire relying on the positioning situations, similar to viable seed within the floor, resprouting vigor, and quantity of precipitation,” says Alexis LaFever-Jackson, Assistant Vegetation Ecologist with CNPS. “With latest rainfall throughout the state, Santa Cruz County is above common for precipitation of the season. We’ll be capable to observe how crops reply over time. The resilience and restoration of forests usually take years of time, with monitoring a great tool for useful resource evaluation, administration planning, and restoration efforts.” 

A woolly dandelion (Malacothrix floccifera) blooming in Henry Coe State Park. Photograph: Mackenzie Brown

This March 2022, we are going to present two workshops for at the least 50 college students and volunteers on find out how to gather post-fire/vegetation surveys and uncommon plant surveys in Santa Clara and Monterey Counties, plus on-line webinars. So keep tuned! We’ll additionally plan future outings for college students and early profession botanists throughout the Central Coast this spring to doc post-fire restoration and impacts in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties and past. Examine our web site for updates on these alternatives quickly.

Thanks to the California State Parks Basis, Save the Redwoods League, and Mary A. Crocker Belief for supporting these efforts thus far! 

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