A Mountain of Recovery

"In the Giant Sequoia Forest" by Joel SowersMother nature is powerful. From fires that cause destruction to the slow but steady repair afterwards, it’s awe inspiring to watchher at work. Scientists are doing just that, using the help of thousands of park goers with digital devices. A group called Nerds for Nature set up signs and posts in the Mountain Diablo area of California that asked visitors to put their camera into a bracket positioned on the top of the sign and take  photo. The photos are being gathered together on their website to show the changes after fire in the area a year later.

After a fire, the road to recovery for an area depends on a number of factors. Most importantly, the intensity of the fire is what really determines how quickly an area will recover. High intensity fires that kill large trees and burn up litter on the ground completely make it difficult to plant life to recover quickly and can cause lots of erosion. Low intensity fires and medium intensity fires are actually beneficial for many ecosystems, as in California where forests need to be thinned out by fire to continue to be successful.

In fact, the National Park Service uses proscribed burns as part of land management techniques to reduce what’s called crown damage. Trees need two things to survive—their crowns to take in the light and their roots to supply water. Sequoias that have twisted trunks with beautiful holes are often damaged as the result of a fire from decades ago that kept the forest healthy, like these in this shot.

Before you decide to go start a fire of your own to help the forest, keep in mind that management teams use special techniques to burn and know when and where to use burning techniques. It’s our responsibility as fans of forests to do all that we can to prevent starting unnecessary fires that might be started by campsites.

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