Nature's Resilience Text and photos by Stewardship Program Manager Mike Palladini

The North Bay wildfires had a major impact on the Land Trust’s preserve network and land stewardship program, with four conservation properties totaling over 3,300 acres having burned entirely.

LTNC stewardship staff have been actively working with the Resource Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Napa County, CALFIRE and others to address immediate post-fire concerns such as erosion risk and damaged infrastructure.

As we start to look toward long-term recovery, we have also begun monitoring the ecological response of the fire-adapted ecosystems that characterize these protected natural areas. Our three years of post-fire monitoring work on the Snell Peak Preserve (see here for more information), and new observations made in recently burned areas remind us of the resiliency of nature and the amazing ability of fire-adapted species to recover.

We hope that the following set of photos, taken in the few months following the North Bay fires, help to illustrate some of this natural resiliency and recovery.

The Land Trust’s Foote Botanical Preserve...
and Sutro Preserve following the Atlas Peak Fire.

The North Bay fires burned through all of these Land Trust preserves, along with two others.

Within just a few weeks, native shrub and tree species that are adapted to re-sprout following wildfire were observed recovering in burned areas.

Brittle Leaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos crustacea)

The northernmost known population of the Brittle Leaf Manzanita (above) occurs on the Foote Preserve.

Left to right: Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), Chaparral Pea (Pickeringia montana) and Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia).
Top left to bottom right: Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica), Chemise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) and Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis).
Rare Napa Lomatium (Lomatium repostum) resprouting on the Foote Preserve just one month after Atlas Fire.

Napa and small portions of the surrounding counties are the only place on the planet where this rare Napa Lomatium (above) is found.

Numerous non-woody species were observed re-sprouting on the Foote and Sutro Preserves within just a few weeks of the fire as well.

Top left: Soaproot (Chlorogalum pomeridianum). Top right: Western Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum). Bottom: native perennial bunchgrass species.
Fire adapted native plants resprouting on the Foote Botanical Preserve less than one month after the Atlas Fire, including Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), Western Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum), and Manzanita (Arctostaphylos).

Many native plants in our Mediterranean ecosystems are highly fire adapted.

Evidence of both the recent and past fires are seen in the charred ring of stems on this madrone (left) and black oak (right). These species readily re-sprout from root crowns following wildfire.
Eastwood’s Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa) resprouting from large basal burl within one month of the Atlas Fire.
A Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) fruit stands out on burned ground within the Atlas Fire area on the Sutro Preserve.

In addition to re-sprouting, Madrones will readily reseed following fire. Fires help prepare a bare mineral soil seedbed and reduce canopy cover, allowing light to reach the forest floor.

Evidence of mixed fire severity on the Sutro Preserve. This mosaic of fully, partially and un-burned patches increases the complexity of habitat structure and composition, which can help to support biodiversity.

We have also observed evidence of wildlife quickly returning to burned habitat on Land Trust preserves.

Large black bear track observed within the Atlas Fire area.
Banana Slug within Atlas Fire area on Foote Preserve.

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