Thursday, May 30, 2013

What We Need Here is Wildfire to Propagate !!!

"What we have here is (a) failure to communicate Educate ?"
Credit: Grolsch Filmworks
Ideology and Philosophy are often times like a terminal  disease which infects not only when it comes to this world's Leadership policy making and other governance schemes, but also when it even comes even to our own understanding of the Earth's Natural World. The sad state of our natural world's health is a testament to human leadership's misuse and abuse of natural resources and lack of understanding when it comes to not only management of these, but also attempting to put it all back together again when humans have blundered somewhere once again. This post will deal with what should be our education and understanding about Fire Ecology and the Big Business intrusion which attempts to profit from it.
We all remember that line by Strother Martin in the classic 1960s film "Cool Hand Luke", where the penal system was trying by force to get the convicts to comply to their totalitarian Authority. In many instances, this world's various authorities (Political &  Business, Science & Religious) do the same thing when it comes to education and communication. It's almost like the old time saying about young ones, "Children should be seen and not heard." Today's authority resents being questioned. Unfortunately the general public is often times so apathetic that such failed leadership gets away with it. Many of the average folks appear to rather like  feeling a sense of laziness in letting others do their thinking and research for them. Some people today are like sponges; they soak up whatever they come across. It is all too easy to absorb whatever is around us. As long as their personal comfort isn't disturbed too much, they allow that authority to dictate how the world around them should work and function. This is also true of our conventional understanding and official teaching on how Nature itself operates. The fact that Nature is presently in dire straights everywhere globally should give us pause. So as to not to suffer the consequences of being a mere blind follower, we need to be selective about the information we take into our minds. We need to scrutinize whatever is presented to us, deciding what to accept and what to reject. However, we do not want to be so narrow that we refuse to consider facts that can improve our thinking. How can we find the right balance?  By adopting a standard with which to measure the so-called new and enlightened information. On the one hand, we need to have an open mind, that is, receptive to new information. On the other hand, our minds should also see the danger of information that is entirely inconsistent with the reality and the truth of just how the Natural World really works.

First off, people need to acquire the quality of discernment in their ability to properly critique what they are being told by those claiming power of their authority.  Discernment is  "acuteness of judgment and understanding."  It is  “the power or faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes one thing from another.”  A person who has this discernment perceives subtleties of ideas or things and has good judgment as to what to believe and how to properly act upon what he/she is being told. Using discernment, a person will be able to recognize those who are merely using smooth slick talk and complimentary speech for a purposed outcome in order to seduce the hearts of inexperienced ones to back a plan, proposal or scheme with reference to an ideological concept. Discernment enables you to discard irrelevant information or misleading facts and distinguish the substance of a matter. But how can anyone really discern when something is misleading?

Credit> Youtube - Craig Chaddock (thumbwave)

Tecate Cypress Regeneration
Let's take an example of the mismanagement of the Natural World and focus on one particular narrow subject of interest which is fire ecology. This would be the propaganda fed to the general public on the need of a fire's importance in Nature for many living plants in the Chaparral Plant Community in order to propagate and  germinate it's species. Narrowing the focus even further in our figurative fire ecology microscope, let's take all things Cypress.  It is said by many experts and parroted by your ignorant average Joe/Jane world citizen who comment on countless public forums & other public boards that Cypress trees cannot propagate unless fire rages through an area causing cones to release 1000s of seeds and consuming everything that would be competition for growth and resources. For example, in 2006, the Orange County Register (see Reference below) had an article about the U.S. Forest Service helping Tecate Cypress trees recover. There was a subtitle and other specific one liners in the article which actually revealed what much of the rest of the story line was going to contain, it said this - 
"Heat Frees Seeds, But Flames Decimated Trees"
"The Fire that trees can't live without might in this case prove lethal."
Fire that trees cannot live without ? While there certainly is an excessively large scale propagation strategy these Cypress trees have in the event of a localized environmental destruction and for getting things off to a fast head start, this is NOT the ONLY way in which these trees propagate and move into virgin territories. Still it's those large stand out one liner quotes in headlines that sticks in people's minds. And these are what are used as a propaganda tool for most of these unnecessary Prescribed or Controlled Burns associated with other words or terms like 'Fuel Management' which for the most part are conducted in remote wilderness type locations far far away from any Urban development. I know this from living in the San Jacinto Mountains for over 20+ years.  I have over the years discovered many locations of mature Cypress tree forests where actual germination does occur within mature stands of old growth chaparral. One such location is the turnout on Hwy 79 south of Julian California where many many years ago Cuyamaca Cypress trees were planted, I presume as a decorative addition to the area we know as "Inspiration Point Road" which is nothing more than a large loop for viewing the Anza Borrego Desert State Park to the east below. Long before the 2003 Cedar Fire blew through this Hwy 79 Overlook, these trees were actually already spreading around everywhere. Just to the south side of this Turnout Overlook on several hills, there were hundreds of these trees spreading into what can be described as pure dense stands of old growth stunted wind blown Manzanita scrub which had been shaped to the hilltop environment by constant never ending prevailing west winds from off the Pacific Ocean. Yet you won't really find any literature written about this. 

One of the best ways to understanding how Nature actually works is quite literally to question and put to the test many of the conventional logic and reasoning being fed to the general public as to land management. It actually takes personal effort of literally dumping the electronic devices, getting off one's back side and getting out into the field regularly. And I mean regularity. It is far better for each individual personally to choose what he will feed his mind with when it comes to references. You've heard it said that we are what we eat, and this can not only apply to food for the body, but also what you feed the mind. No matter what you are reading or watching or listening to when it comes to Scientific Land Management, test to see whether it has propagandistic overtones or is truthful. Clearly in these later days, much of the Fire Ecology does not deal with the reality of how Nature actually operates. Also keep in mind that if you really want to be fair-minded, you also have to be willing to subject our own personal biased opinions and ideas to continual testing as you take in new information. You have to realize that they are, after all, opinions, which no doubt were formulated through the opinion of those with Authority who educated you in the beginning. Even our own ongoing education and understanding's trustworthiness depends on the validity of our own facts, on the quality of our reasoning, and on the standards or values that we choose to apply to them.

Getting back to the flawed understanding with regards Fire Ecology, here's one of my personal favourite locations of old growth Tecate Cypress trees regenerating without fire and these are the isolated pocket stands found on Quatay Mountain near Descanso CA. Take a look at the map below. Please pay close attention here.

Credit: GOOGLE
Traveling here from Interstate 8 on Hwy 79 north which takes you beyond the town of Descanso itself and beyond the Jct of Hwy 79 & old US 80 which heads towards Quatay and Pine Valley. Look for a development with a sort of Grand entrance which is called Tecate Cypress Trail, then proceed a half mile beyond that to the east up the grade. When you come to another road on the left called Samagatuma Valley Road and directly across from that road you will see this fence on the south side which is the secret  Tecate Cypress Stand Trailhead . Now it's not an official one, but someone a decade ago did cut a easy pathway up to those trees. So access is  possible.

Caution should be in order here as I have no idea as to who now owns this part of Guatay Mountain and in the past I did stumble upon an *cough-cough* Illegal Farm Irrigation pipe if you know what I mean. My main point here is that once up into these trees, you can locate and find many young Tecate Cypress seedlings in among various chaparral plant undergrowth. You will also often find some open cones on the trees themselves. It actually took me a couple of visits in my seed collection before I began noticing there were all these seedlings (which I actually had seen before but gave no thought) and finally I started questioning the reasons for their existence which defied the traditional storytelling I had bought into in my formal education. There among the old growth Cypress and actually much of the old growth Chaparral, I began to discern various age groups among all the Cypresses. Some a foot tall, some five foot tall, some taller. Why ? If it have taken a fire to create these large older Tecate Cypress Forests in the first place, then why were there all these numerous decades younger aged trees ? But a clue was the sound I often heard up here. The sound of a bird pecking on wood. Looking around I discovered these small brown birds pecking on the cones themselves attempting to get at the seeds. I'm no bird expert, but hopefully someone else living there or reading this experience will be alert enough with camera to document this phenomena. Clearly, these birds have a measure of success in penetrating the hard cone, but that doesn't always mean they get every seed. I'm sure some fall out and drop onto the ground or sail into the breeze and land far away from the parent tree. I haven't gone to this place on my present 3012 Spring visit here this time around, but at least you all have a reference point for a personal educational visit. 
Credit: SDSU.EDU
The large list of areas where Tecate Cypress exists in large woodland settings. Tecate Peak, Otay Mountains, Quatay Mountains, Santa Ana Mountains and a colony on Cedros Island off Baja California are the prime locations given for viewing these trees, and yet smaller colonies in Peutz Valley near Apline CA and Lawson Valley near Jamul CA to name a few. The photo above comes from the Otay Mountain Wilderness Recovery Program in 2005. This was a fire that occurred simultaneously in 2003 south of the 2003 Cedar fire. As an important side point here, take note of the reference to the Peutz Valley region where it is listed as an area of Tecate Cypress naturalization. Interestingly, there historically were no Tecate Cypress woodlands prior to human intrusion into the area west of Alpine and north of El Capitan Reservior. What happened was that some residents back in the 1970s planted some as landscape features on their property. There was never fire here in Puetz Valley like that of the 2003 Cedar Fire, so the question becomes:
 "How did Tecate Cypress Seeds advance themselves and naturalize out in the surround chaparral and adjacent canyons without the 'Dogma of Fire Ecology' being foremost in this process ?" 
Hmmm, could birds pecking on cones be the answer ? I do have one other easy example location, but unfortunately I believe the 2003 Cedar Fire would have easily devoured this spot. I use to collect a lot of seed here at this location as well. There are actually many such places not mentioned in much of the literature dealing with Tecate Cypress habitats. Mostly what are written about are four or five main locations. This place however is on the western face of Cuyamaca Peak along Boulder Creek Road. The location has a name, Wildcat Spring which is a concrete Water Storage Tank, but next to a moist seep area. There were always many older Oaks associated with this place and old growth Tecate Cypress. Underneath the tree canopy and out in the fringes of the surrounding chaparral there were various size seedlings, but always newly fresh year old seedlings every time I visited. Curiously it was experiences like this that made me again question this flawed Fire Ecology thinking. It was clearly evident that these trees were in no need of fire, something you will hardly find anywhere in any literature or textbooks. I did once scoop an 8 inch high seedling into a five gallon pail at Wildcat Spring and brought it home to my place in Anza California. Here I took this photo this past 2013 Spring.

Photo Mine
 To the right here is a photo I took last week of that very tree as it appears today on that property within the Redshank/Ribbonwood, Mountain Mahogany, and Holly Leaf Redberry where I planted it. Take note below here. This was planted in the late 1980s, inoculated and nurtured for a couple of years and then left to it's own thereafter. It is now about 10 foot tall. These next sets of photographs are taken on a neighbouring property of my Brother's home in Ranchita California which is directly south of Anza and in much of the same chaparral at 4000' elevation. These are his neighbour's Arizona Cypress planted along a western fence line border for privacy and a windbreak. They appear to be no longer watered or cared for and have actually spread themselves not only several yards away from the parent trees, but also across the dirt road into the Chaparral. These trees have spread across the road into the Chamise. But also please take note of the chainlink fence line in which numerous seedlings have germinated and the question is why ? For me it's the best proof, other than being an eye witness to birds pecking at Cypress cones and eating seeds, then some seeds making through their intense digestive track only to be pooped out as they perched for a rest. Always take special note of fence lines to understand a bird's favourite diet. *smile*

Photo Mine

Photo Mine
New trees have spread outside of the fence area where the much larger trees are 10 foot away from the fence. I find many fences are great places for many seeds of any kind to germinate. It has a sort of artificial protection and organic build up which creates a mulch and nutrient catchment.
Photo Mine
This view is looking over the chain link fencing and revealing several seedlings within the property itself.

Photo Mine
This photo is far away from the property with adult trees and is across the road on the other side, and admittedly is not much to look at. The tree is barely hanging on though still alive below near the ground and the growth is new this year. Still this location is across the road, west of the road and property. The trend here is an east to westward movement. That is interesting as this area receives heavy Santa Ana Winds which come in Fall and early Winter. Do the dry hot winds open and disperse the cones and seeds ? Who knows, but it is clear that the wind direction does have a direct effect on these trees spreading westward through the chaparral.

This post isn't really a slam against anything forestry, but it is puzzling why such outdated flawed understanding which influences and dictates the need for Prescribed or Controlled Burns are justified to help nature. That just isn't the case. I have worked with many of these officials before and I will tell you that pride of academic accomplishment and credentials means everything to them. Sometimes you have to explain things to them in a way that makes them believe it was their idea in the first place. Or at least subtly send them in the right with the illusion of it being theirs. What ever it takes to get things done. Mostly I post hoping the private land owner, gardener or landscaper gets the point and  benefits the most, but not on my word, but getting out there and seeing for themselves. Nothing burns understanding into those brains cells faster than personal observation and experience coupled with practical application back home. I entertain no such hope that government will ever change. People today are told and even encourage to question everything today. I'm not necessarily for that as all I'm seeing now in the Global News Reports are more chaos and disunity. As we have seen, there are many in authority today who would like to delude us with so-called Scientific persuasive arguments about fire ecology.  Therefore, when we are presented with these modern day persuasive science arguments, we should ask questions.

For example, examine whether there is any bias. (there almost always is) Next, what is the motive for the message ? (in other words, who's going to profit off the venture) If the message is rife with name-calling and loaded words (Chaparral is boring & mundane or Fuel in need of Management), why is that ? Loaded language aside, what are the merits of the Fire Ecology practices themselves ? Also, if possible, try to check the track record of those so-called experts in authority who are speaking. Are they known for speaking the truth ? And If “authorities” are used in reference, who or what are they ? Why should you regard this person - or organization or publication (Textbooks) - as having expert knowledge or trustworthy information on the subject of fire Ecology or the land management in question ? If you sense some appeal to emotions, ask yourself,
‘When viewed dispassionately, what are the merits of the land management message ?’
Photo Mine
This is a side point, but also fits in with the rest of the post subject. This tree, which I believe was Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) was acquired from a old growth forest floor high above Sierra Vista Arizona up in the Huachuca Mountains. It was about 5 inches tall when planted in 1994 and now is about three foot in height among the chaparral where I planted it. Other than inoculation with Pisolithus tinctorius (the infamous 'Dog turd Fungus') which did take hold as evidenced by that first year's truffle formation, which even surprised Dr Donald Marx of Plant Health Care Inc or PHC in Frogmore South Carolina, nothing more was done for the tree after that. This photo was taken in the Spring of 2013 and although still small, it has successfully made it under it's own with the help of mycorrhizae. BTW, there are artist drawings by naturalists depicting the extinct South Carolina Parakeet up in Bald Cypress trees with cypress cones in their mouths. What a pity that some things go extinct before we understand the full complexity of the roles they once played in Nature. 

Further Interesting Reading:
Orange County Register: "Forest Service helps tecate cypress after fire"
Also check out the link on Tecate Cypress Seed germination which also should illustrate some pertinent points made above: 
 Seed Germination & Old School Ideology vrs How Nature Actually Works


  1. john pitterMay 31, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    i have study full of your post related to website development.
    it is very knowledgeable content about development.
    Thanks friend

    I'm puzzled here John, if you appreciated the post, then what's up with the covert SPAMMER crap ?


  2. FYI: There is a rash of "Comment Spam" going around. It's automated. I started getting them on my blog - always generic messages with an added on "See my site: ---" at the end. I was getting them like clockwork every morning until I changed my settings so that people have to type a warped word to enter their comments -- this keeps the machines out and humans in. This Comment Spam! Success!

    Regarding discerning thinking, I remember about ten your ago, the "Greening Earth Society" popped up, extolling the wonderfulness of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a necessity for plant growth (which it is, of course). Their logic went on to say, the more CO2, the more plants, so lets pump the atmosphere FULL of CO2 and have a wonderful green world! If one investigated, one discovered that the "Greening Earth Society" was just an offshoot of a massive coal mining entity. So I used this an example to my students of "look at the source" when you hear something fishy.

    1. Yeah it amazes me how much of the traditional long cherished conventional old school thinking still exists among those in charge of land management. When good science has dispelled so many myths, and how far more effective land management could be, is beyond me why policies and habitat restoration programs never change. What that tells me is that several somebodies are making money on the deal.


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