Audublog

Dealing with fire in Southern California

August 7th, 2013 · by Garrison Frost

Sometimes fire can be good for bird habitat, but the types of intense fires that often sweep through Southern California can be incredibly bad, converting good habitat into something far less hospitable. Take a look at this USGS video about addressing the problems caused by fire in Southern California:

Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat

One Comment so far ↓

  • Rachel Fazio

    While I found the USGS video to be interesting, your introduction to the video was very misleading, creating the misimpression that Southern CA fires are bad for birds. The main thrust of the video is that fire in southern California is natural, just like earthquakes, and that in order to protect people and property we need to figure out how best to manage these fires. The ecosystems in southern California, especially the chaparral, are fire adapted/dependent ecosystems and are designed by nature to burn at high intensity. The animals, including birds, that live in this ecosystem are also adapted/dependent on fire. Even the article that you link to only indicates that fire is bad for an ecosystem when it burns repetitively in the same place, not when the fire adapted/dependent ecosystem has simply experienced one natural hot burn. While it is important to protect homes and communities from fire, the management tools which have been employed ostensibly to do so are often ineffective (as the video indicates) and are extremely damaging to wildlife habitat (also as the video indicates). Likewise management that is implemented after a fire under the guise of restoration, such as salvage logging and herbicide application also do far more damage to this newly created habitat and the wildlife that thrive there. In the Sierra Nevada studies actually show that mature and old forest that burns at high intensity has the most biodiversity of any forest type, including green old growth forests, especially in avian species. High intensity burned areas are some of the best places to go birding, garnering upwards of a dozen species sightings in just one morning. It would be nice if you could make your members aware of this fact, so that the next time they smell smoke in the air or drive by a blackened hillside they can be intrigued by the new habitat that was created and excited about exploring it, rather than simply labeling it as “bad”.