Big Sur Regrowth & Burn Severity Map

Burn Severity Map:

(Click on Map to view in larger size)

Other google-oriented burn maps are available here:
Cal-Trans has posted some great aerial shots of all the affected watersheds that lead to highway one. I really suggest you take a look at these wonderful shots. They are fascinating to study to see the burn pattern. They belong to Cal-Trans, and cannot be used without permission. Click on the Cal-Trans link under “photos.”

Hastings Reserve did an aerial flight of the perimeter of the fire, and has posted a large number of photos, here:

Good News from Dr. Readdie of Big Creek Reserve:

“Some observations made along the Coast Ridge and down the fire break to Dolan Ridge along the fire break.

By July 17th there were bracken ferns growing along coast ridge road. Grasses growing along Dolan Ridge. Some scrub oaks re sprouting at higher elevations (3500′).

August 1 Yerba santa growing in the dozer line, grass was higher along the burned areas on Dolan Ridge, blackberries growing out of the dozer break as well.

These areas burned during the first and second week of July. We have already taken photos at GPS locations and plan to set up permanent monitoring plots to watch regrowth of the plant communities
over time and to assess potential damage from erosion.

I forgot to mention the coffee berry and ceonothus that were regrowing as well.

I will have more information next week after we do some quantitative surveys. I will do a survey in one are we found that burned very hot in Rat Creek. Those areas will have the conditions where recovery will be slow and erosion will be potentially the worst. The interesting thing is that those areas seem patchy and not necessarily extensive.

Have you seen the burn severity map from the BAER process? I have attached it here. [See below] You will notice that it actually shows the patchiness of severely burned areas and that they may be less extensive on the coastal slope than it seems by appearance. Even the area around the Big Sur river gorge, that looks completely black now, is labeled moderate. I think we will start to get a feel for the difference between what “looks badly burned” and what actually “is badly burned”.

It will be very interesting to see how much natural growth and germination we get during July-November before the big rains start. Actually, that seems like a really long time, much longer than what may be normal for recovery time before a rain. It sure was surprising to me to see so many green shoots so quickly with no precipitation. Even up high where it was over 90 degrees. Studies show that typically, only the areas that end up with a layer of white ash have all the seed bank burned, while the black areas rapidly recover.

I am trying to get a Big Creek blog set up where I can post these kind of observations. I’m really behind since I make new observations every week. You bloggers really understand this! I have a bunch of stuff written down in my little notebook though and hope to make it all available online through our website.”

> Mark Readdie, Ph.D.
> Resident Director
> Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve (
> University of California at Santa Cruz
NOTE: Also, please note that I have updated the Cal-Trans Project page today, to include additional, and more current data on the Pitkins/Rain Rocks project, now scheduled to begin in September of 2009, rather than March of 2009. It includes all the various types of “delays” and “closures” and the notification procedures for all.

2 thoughts on “Big Sur Regrowth & Burn Severity Map

  1. Kate this is very good news to hear about the regroth process. Mother earth knows how to regenerate herself. 🙂

    However the burn map was incredible. Most people will never see that map, but ought to. If you did the state wide map, it will look like California was put into a toaster oven left on by mistake.

    Thanks for this update and the comments on the pictures at Flickr. I will pass the comments on to Rob. He will appreciate them.

  2. Hi Kate, I see you manage to keep busy—– I have a little something here that may be of interest. After the ’72 Molera fire there was an anti-erosion concoction of seed aeriel spread over the valley of Big Sur, etc.. There was a small plant that handily took up the slack ’till the natives regrew. I contacted Dave Egbert about it, and if I may quote: “The plant was probebly Lotus scoparius, deerweed. This little plant is ideal for reseeding burned areas because it thrives in the open situation and high potash content of burned soils. Being a legume, it also fixes Nitrogen in the soil to help feed other plants that succeed it as an area recovers. Deerweeds tend to disappear as other plants croud it out but the seeds lay dorment waiting for new fires to open up the land. There will probebly be a lot of it showing up on it’s own….you can purchase the seed for your own land from Rana Creek Habitat Restoration or Elkhorn Native Plants.”

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