Continuing with catching up, it’s onto late October when we ventured up to a county open space park not far from our house to check out the aftermath of a prescribed burn completed for forest maintenance.
The prescribed burn at Hall Ranch, coincidentally, occurred the same day we were at Chasm Lake. You could see some of the smoke in the air, but thankfully it wasn’t nearly as windy at that park as it was on our hike. They were able to complete the burn as planned, and as crazy as this sounds, they did a really nice job.
Wildfires are a scary thing, but they’re nature’s way of maintaining balance. For too long, many forests across the US have not burned, putting them at higher risk of being utterly ferocious fires when lightning strikes or – God forbid – a human starts a fire either on purpose or out of sheer ignorance. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught my breath each time I see someone flick a lit cigarette butt out the car window on the highway – just that little ember can put so many people and the forest at risk of a fire!) Prescribed burns like this one are carefully controlled to kill the overgrowth and let nature hit its own reset button.
The burn covered a fairly large area. I was particularly impressed with the lines of control. They were so clearly defined that the park and forest personnel involved clearly knew what they wanted to burn and kept the rest from catching fire.
In its wake, the fire left a black landscape that was oddly pretty. It’s certainly not something you see everyday, and there were already glimpses of the forest floor regenerating itself even only 2 weeks after the burn.
Whether it was cactus or yucca plants surviving the fire or little blades of grass popping through the blackened soil, it was more proof that nature is a pretty astounding and resilient thing.
May 2016 Update: During our hike a few weeks ago at Hall Ranch, we went through this same exact area and it’s simply astonishing how it’s bounced back and is thriving. This is exactly why prescribed burns – when done correctly and controlled – are so good for nature so it can regenerate itself!!