The brighter side of forest fires

Previously I posted an overview of some work I did in the Ventana Wilderness. The photographs in that post were chosen primarily to give a balanced view of the forest after it had been burned to cinders a few years ago. The tallest trees in the forest are all dead, charred and leafless, but they’re largely still standing, leaving a hiker traversing the forest in a blackened mausoleum of creaking snags and ash.

On the other hand, life at the ground level has exploded. With more sun reaching the ground (there’s nothing like a canopy to block its passage) the soil has long since erupted into a thick mass of grasses, saplings, and ferns. Some of the saplings already reach five or six feet off the ground, and stands of regenerating forests were thick enough to warrant simply going around as we re-cut our trail.

Today’s photographs focus more on those instances of positive regeneration than upon the blackened snags. Enjoy.

New growth surrounds dead stems.

On break, it wasn’t as hot as the desert, but nor was it particularly cool. Note how the new growth has almost completely covered the old dead wood.

Luckily, although the fire was intense in the valley we were working in, it didn’t touch much of the rest of the park.

Places where the fire had been less severe regenerated considerably quicker.

In the absence of a shading canopy, new growth explodes from the forest floor.

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Posted on January 19, 2012, in The Ventana Wilderness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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