Here’s a great site full of info on the infamous Lick Fire, which scorched over half of Henry Coe State Park.
The firebreaks carved through many of the hillsides are disturbing at best.
As with most wildfires, this one was a mosaic. There are many lightly burned and completely unburned areas that served as refuges for larger animals and will serve as a source for seeding in some of the more severely burned areas.
Some areas did indeed burn fiercely: especially those in which highly flammable chamise had built up to dangerous levels. Bear Mountain area, shown above, is a “moonscape”. In some areas the skeletons of the chaparral shrubs remain standing, but in others the fire was so hot that there is essentially nothing left. Fortunately, these “moonscapes” are the exception rather than the rule. Where the skeletons stand, it will not be long after the first rains that new sprouts appear at their bases. Obviously regeneration of vegetation in the most severely burned areas will take some time. However, the longer the chamise chaparral is allowed to grow without fire the more dangerous it becomes. It will be many years before it builds up to such hazardous levels again.
The recovery process has already started. Although the meadows were essentially black right after the fire many are a light tan color as seen from a distance. Close inspection reveals hundreds of small fresh dirt mounds, indicating that large numbers of gophers have survived and are perhaps busy feasting on toasted grass roots. Many of the oaks with impacted crowns shed huge numbers of acorns and it hasn’t taken the deer long to find them. Just two weeks after the fire small bits of green have appeared even in some fairly heavily impacted areas. Fresh elk and coyote droppings can already be found in areas that were still smoking a few weeks ago.
The site also has a raft of photo albums and the HamCam video is way cool.
Thanks to Cynthia Leeder for passing the link along.