Table of Contents
Fire Ecology, 2005
Volume 1, Issue 1
Fire History in Coast Redwood Stands in the Northeastern Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Authors: Scott L. Stephens and Danny L. Fry
Fire regimes in coast redwood forests in the northeastern Santa Cruz Mountains were determined by ring counts from 48 coast redwood stumps, downed logs, and live trees. Degradation of remnant materials from post-harvest fires severely limited available fire scars in this region. The earliest recorded fire was recorded in approximately 1615 and the last fire recorded was in 1884. The Ohlone and early immigrants were probably the primary source of ignitions in this region. For all sites combined, the mean fire return interval (FRI) was 12.0 years; the median FRI was 10 years. There was no significant difference in FRI’s between plot aspects but there was a significant difference in MFI between the four sampled sites. The grand mean FRI for single trees (point) was 16.3 years. Past fire scars occurred most frequently in the latewood portion of the annual ring or during the dormant period. It is probable that the number of fires recorded in coast redwood trees is a subset of those fires that burned in adjacent grasslands and oak savannahs. Continued development of old-growth and young-growth coast redwood forests toward prehistoric conditions may be dependent of a fire regime where prescribed burning substitutes for the now-absent aboriginal ignitions.
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