- Slideshows each of one area showing changes
- How many taxa were blooming?
- Species Notes
- Plants not found
- Species list for Cold Spring Trail
The fire, taken from Las Alturas Rd. by Henry L. Fechtman.
The burn area is about 2 miles up Cold Spring Trail, between N34°27.82′ and N34°27.89′, W119°38.60′ and W119°38.67′. Altitude 600-675m. N/S difference is about 120m, E/W difference is about 125m, height difference about 75m. If the region were flat this would be roughly .5 hectare, but since it is quite the opposite of flat the actual surface area is probably about half again as much. This is a steep south, southwest facing slope, pretty dry.
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Before the fire this was typical front country chaparral, where the trail cut through it there were also small sub-shrubs and such at the edges. The chaparral mix was mostly Ceanothus spp., Arctostaphylos spp. (manzanitas), Malosma laurina (laurel sumac), Prunus illicifolia (holly-leaved cherry), Adenostoma fascicula (chamise). A little further down the trail is a large patch of Cercocarpus betuloides (mountain mahogany) and that would probably be mixed in too. Along the edge of the trail were Salvia mellifera (black sage), Trichostema lanatum (woolly bluecurls) and Mimulus aurantiacus (sticky monkeyflower). The fire was on the edge of the largest patch of Calochortus fimbriatus (late-blooming Mariposa lily) that I know of. There is a bare knoll in the middle of the burn to which the trail leads. In the past this has been home to Lupinus hirsutissimus (Stinging Lupine), Hesperoyucca whipplei (Chaparral Yucca), mariposa lilies, Wild Oats Avena spp., probably Cryptantha sp. (popcornflower) and Erodium cicutarium (storksbill).
I believe the burned area was previously divided into three distinct zones. The first is the lower slope (below the knoll and the non-forest service trail). This area was probably mostly bigpod Ceanothus before the fire. Almost all the shrubs here have been burnt completely, down to the ground, and (by June 2013) I have seen no evidence of shrub regeneration here. Then there is the area above the knoll. This appears to have been a mixture of species with regeneration of Chamise, Laurel Sumac, Holly-leaved Cherry, Manzanita and Bush Poppy starting around the beginning of March. Lastly there is the area around the knoll and to the east of the non-FS trail; this has always been less vegetated; here grow the yuccas and lupines.
I will try to follow regeneration in the area by checking on it monthly (sadly I missed visiting in November — marathon training and recovery). Generally I follow the transects laid out by Cold Spring trail (half-way through I added a transect along the non-Forest Service trail that cuts across the burn).
Over the last ~150 years Santa Barbara averages 17.5 inches (44.6cm) of rain a year, but the amount of rain is highly variable with a standard deviation of 8.6 inches. (The rainfall data I have are taken from downtown Santa Barbara rather than the burn area itself, but I expect the variations are similar).
|2010||28.4 in||+1.25 sd|
|2011||17.2 in||-0.04 sd|
|2012||13.8 in||-0.43 sd|
|2013||4.2 in||-1.55 sd|
The calendar year of the fire was mildly dry, but November of that year had 2.8 inches (which is almost twice the expected amount for November) and December had 3.2 inches (which is a bit over average). So the first two months after the fire were damp.
The result has been an initial burst of vegitation in early 2013 followed by a die-back caused by drought. Until the end of February 2014 there were no significant winter rains, but on the last 3 days of Feb we got more rain (3.4 inches) than in the previous 13 months (3.3 inches). We are still in a bad drought, but it’s now a little better. There were some signs of new plants in December, but they dried up and died in January. After the late February rains plants sprouted again.
These show selected areas of the burn as they change through time.
These aren’t as easy to use as I would like. Click on an image below, and then select “Slideshow” from the menu. If you have a slow connection you may need to play the slideshow several times before all the images load.
The table below lists the species I have seen since the fire (in the burn area). In the little calendars the area in light green represents times when I have seen the species growing but not blooming, the area in pink represents times when I have seen the species in bloom, and the area in white represents time when I saw no sign of the species (or represents time in the future, to be filled in later). When a state change happens between two samples (“blooming on 28/Apr, dead on 14/May”), I shade from one color to the other between the two. Species are listed in the order in which I noticed them first. Often I can’t identify a plant until it blooms; a few plants (fringe pod for instance) I failed to even notice until long after it had set seed.