[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Fire Flowers | 07-31-2016
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
77°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 29
1907 - Actor & Placerita movie ranch owner Orvon Gene Autry born in Texas [story]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jul 31, 2016

DianneErskineHellrigelWildfires, as we have recently seen, can burn acres of land and grow completely out of control in a matter of minutes.

Fire can be fueled by many things, including weather, dry brush, drought and wind. There are three conditions that must be met for wildfires to burn. First is an ignition source such as lightning, a campfire, a cigarette, a spark from a car or a tool such as a saw, downed power lines, the sun hitting a shard of discarded glass, or arson.

Most wildfires are started by humans. In fact, four out of five are caused by people, either by accident, through carelessness, or intentionally.

Four to five million acres of forest are damaged by wildfire each year. Although wildfires occur throughout our 50 states, they are most common in the West because of drought, heat, extremely dry brush and winds such as the Santa Ana winds for which we are known.

People tend to detest fire because it changes the natural landscape from green and inviting to black, grey and uninviting. Smoke can bring on asthma attacks and other breathing maladies. If poison oak is burned, the toxic oil, urushiol, can become airborne and cause problems for people who breathe it in, or who may come into contact with the oil once it has settled.

deh_fire2Fire burns homes, cars, businesses, factories, and it can kill people. It can also kill our local wildlife, leaving an uninhabitable, dangerous, lifeless zone behind.

But even the worst wildland fires have a good side. In fact, California needs fire to rejuvenate. Many plants cannot grow until after a fire has occurred. These plants are called fire followers. The heat from fire causes the dormant seeds of plants and pines to crack open, which allows the plants to grow. These seeds may have been waiting for years for fire to come along. The charred landscape is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, which are perfect to launch these little plants into the brilliant hillside flower shows that so often follow a fire.

Some fire followers are: poodle dog bush, golden eardrops, bush poppies, fire poppies, white and pink snapdragon, whispering bells, popcorn flower, scarlet larkspur and many more. With rain, we could be seeing the type of floral display that has eluded us for many years.

deh_fire3Oak trees, even when burned down to the ground, can come back. You might notice the oak stump sending up sprouts in spring. Each of these little “stump sprouts” will form a new trunk.

On your next walk in open space, look for oak trees with multiple trunks. That tree was burned at some point, but it recovered to live many more years.

Pine trees do not recover as well with exposure to fire, and even if they struggle to come back, they usually become victim to beetles and die.

After every fire there is controversy: To plant or not to plant? That is the question.

Scarlet larkspur

Scarlet larkspur

There is a local organization that is paid well to plant pine trees in the forest following fire. While this sounds like a great idea, the truth is that 80 percent of those trees die. They are planted in the winter months and without consistent rain, they won’t make it.

Volunteers plant those trees, and they usually don’t do it correctly. They leave pockets of air in the roots and do not sufficiently protect the crown. There is usually not sufficient rain to keep those little trees alive. In my opinion, a 20 percent survival rate is not good enough.

Poodle dog bush

Poodle dog bush

Nature has a way of healing herself. After the Station Fire, I noticed lots of little baby trees popping up through the blackened surface. Interestingly enough, the poodle dog bush, a fire follower, was protecting those little trees with shade and breaking up the surface so that rain water would be available for those little trees. Poodle dog bush usually dies within eight years after a fire, giving the little trees long enough to be well on their way without the continued protection of the poodle dog bush.

If you’ve been affected by fire and hate seeing your green view-shed turned black, be patient. Nature will do her thing, and it will come back. Nature is a great healer.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

Popcorn flowers

Popcorn flowers

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

5 Comments

  1. Lou F says:

    Thank you for sharing this and the many other wonderful articles!

  2. Tessa Lucero says:

    Nice to know that there is some justification for the existence of poodle dog bush, horrid plant that it is.

  3. treehugger says:

    The poodle dog bush may be beautiful however DO NOT TOUCH it!
    It can cause allergic reactions much worse than poison ivy or poison oak.
    After the Station Fire a few L A County Sheriffs had a run-in with poodle dog bush. THe USForest Service needs to warn of its location along the trails. Lets just hope the Forest will be open for the public to enjoy the amazing wild flowers in the Spring.

  4. Michele Jenkins says:

    Educational, hopeful & lovely story Dianne.

  5. Thank you for the comments. Poodle Dog Bush is indeed a nasty plant to run into. It would be great if people were educated about the plant. It does have it’s virtues, but “Look, Do Not Touch” is good advice about this plant. When we hike in burn areas, I always point it out, as well as Poison Oak, Rattlesnakes and Poison Sumac! Long pants and long sleeves are advised for hiking wear if you are in a burn area. Poodle Dog Bush will usually start to die out after about 8 years, and will sit in wait for the next fire.

Leave a Comment


Commentary Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Sep 29, 2016
Walking across my property the other morning around 7:30, I saw something move suddenly at my feet. It actually struck at me, and it was a good thing I didn’t step on it. It was in fact a night snake. I was thrilled.
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016
Social justice warriors at the University of Kansas screamed obscenities at white students who didn’t feel the need for "safe spaces." Imagine that. The self-proclaimed warriors of civility and equality respond to what was supposed to be an open conversation by shouting them down, using foul language, and screaming in the faces of students with a different viewpoint.
Sunday, Sep 25, 2016
I have taken many walks on the plains of Tanzania with Masai body guards armed with spears and occasionally rifles. It is rather unnerving to think at any moment, you could become prey to a lion, cheetah or another apex predator.
Thursday, Sep 22, 2016
If you find yourself traveling east on Interstate 40 to Needles or beyond, you might want to consider a short side trip to explore Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. It’s located just off of National Trails Highway (Historic Route 66) about 28 miles east of the town of Ludlow.
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016
Medicare’s annual open enrollment season begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time every year when you can sign up for a new Medicare drug or health plan, or switch the one you have now.
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016
“Pseudologia fantastica” is defined as “a condition involving compulsive lying by a person with no obvious motivation. The affected person might believe their lies to be truth and may have to create elaborate myths to reconcile them with other facts.”

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
Walking across my property the other morning around 7:30, I saw something move suddenly at my feet. It actually struck at me, and it was a good thing I didn’t step on it. It was in fact a night snake. I was thrilled.
Night Snakes | Commentary by Mari Carbajal
1907 - Actor & Placerita movie ranch owner Orvon Gene Autry born in Texas [story]
Support Hart Cheer and buy a raffle ticket for $10 to win 12 VIP tickets plus parking to see the LA Kings take on the Vancouver Canucks at the Staples Center on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Help Hart Cheer: Enter to Win Kings VIP Tix, $6,000 Value
Join expert archivists who work in the entertainment industry in celebrating the 14th annual International Home Movie Day on Saturday, Oct. 15, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Valencia Public Library.
Oct. 15: Share Your Old Home Movie at Valencia Library
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe is proud to announce that the County’s Safe Surrender Program celebrated success for the fifth time this year with the report of a safely surrendered newborn baby boy. This most recent Safe Surrender occurred on Monday, Sept. 27m at a hospital in Montebello.
Baby Boy Safely Surrendered in L.A. County
The City of Santa Clarita’s March-through-October Thursdays@Newhall series comes to a close with an interactive dance night, one-of-kind car show, a zombie outbreak, interesting speakers and more on Main Street in Old Town Newhall.
From Zydeco to Zombies: Thursdays in Newhall in October
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca says he will not get a fair trial on charges he obstructed an investigation into jailhouse abuses because a federal judge is already convinced of his guilt and media coverage has prejudiced him.
Baca Wants New Judge, Prosecutor, Trial Location
The Master’s University’s women’s soccer team’s 2016 record moved to 4-4-2 (0-2 GSAC) after falling to Biola University 4-0 Tuesday night.
Soccer: Biola Shuts Door on Lady Mustangs
Morgan Koch paced the Lady Mustangs with eight kills, while Tate followed with seven. Kayla Sims tallied 27 assists, while Emily Clark notched 12 digs. Stevens finished the evening with four blocks and six kills.
Volleyball: Lady Mustangs Improve to 13-5 with Win Over Warriors
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, see how local students are combating body image issues. Plus, Hart Park will celebrate Native American culture this weekend. See how, coming up.
SCV NewsBreak for Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Work will begin on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, and is expected to be completed in six (6) working days. Detonation will occur on October 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2016. All work will be conducted between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Explosions Scheduled for Whittaker-Bermite Site
The Castaic Board of Trustees is looking to hire an attorney to help with the legal issues surrounding a home entrusted to Castaic Middle School.
Castaic Board Looking to Hire Attorney to Battle Over Home
The Friends of Hart Park 23rd Annual Hart of the West Powwow and Native American Craft Fair is this Saturday and Sunday.
Oct 1-2: Annual Hart of the West Powwow and Native American Craft Fair Returns
The annual American Indian Celebration at Antelope Valley Indian Museum returns on Oct. 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Native artists will sell jewelry, beadwork, gourd art, paintings, and crafts at the event.
Oct. 1: Help Repair Red Rock Trail; Oct. 15-16: Native Celebration at AV Museum; more
1918 - Box-office superstar William S. Hart promotes 4th series of Liberty Loan (World War I) bonds, which go on sale on this date [story]
The Santa Clarita Homeless Coalition presents SCV CARES – a community event to bring homeless awareness and resources to the Santa Clarita Valley.
Oct. 15: Homeless Resources, Awareness Event at Real Life Church
The Saugus Union School District today announced the appointment of Nick Heinlein to the position of Assistant Superintendent, Business. Mr. Heinlein comes to the Saugus District from a similar position with the Tehachapi Unified School District, Tehachapi and will officially join the district on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Saugus School District Names New Asst. Superintendent for Business
For the second week in a row, a member from The Master’s University has been named the GSAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week award as Benjamin Tembo earned the honor after scoring the game-winning, sudden-victory goal in last Tuesday's 1-0 thriller over No. 8 Vanguard.
TMU Soccer’s Tembo is GSAC Offensive Player of Week
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the county awaits "all clear" to fix Vasquez Canyon Road. Plus, some quick tips on how to register to vote in honor of National Voter Registration Day. Check out these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, September 27, 2016
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday for signing legislation requiring schools that serve students from grades 7 to 12 to adopt suicide prevention policies.
State Requires Suicide Prevention Policies for 7-12 Schools
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday’s Cougar football game free of charge.
COC Football Saturday: Free Entry for Youth Sports Players, Cheer, Coaches
The Trinity Knights Varsity Football (3-1), led by Coach Les Robinson, will play host to the Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals (0-4) this Saturday, October 1 at 7 p.m. as they battle it out to claim the title of Faith Bowl Champion 2016.
Crosstown Showdown Oct. 1: Trinity vs. SCCS in 2nd Annual Faith Bowl
Santa Clarita-based BioSolar Inc., a developer of breakthrough energy storage technology and materials, announced it has initiated a new program for the development of a high energy anode for current and next generation lithium batteries.
SCV Firm Developing High-Energy Battery Anode
After months of attempts to negotiate with a property owner of the hillside next to Vasquez Canyon Road, county officials are moving forward with the condemnation process in hopes making repairs.
County Awaits ‘All Clear’ to Fix Vasquez Canyon Road
The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award on Tuesday for its 2016 "Still Golden" campaign project in the category of Special Purpose Print Brochure from the International Economic Development Council.
Peers Say SCV Economic Development Corp. is Pure Gold
The annual Fight It race raises thousands of dollars to help young professionals across The United States battling cancer by providing financial assistance.
Oct. 8: 5K Race is On for Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund
Drawing is seeing. Recognizing the lines and shapes of objects around us, we can learn to draw what we see and advance our drawing skills. Join the ARTree for a beginner-level class in drawing with a highly experienced educator and artist.
New ARTree Class: Basic Drawing for Kids; more
"Startup Weekend SCV 2016" is going to help aspiring entrepreneurs grow their startup from an idea to a business in 54 hours.
Nov. 4: Local Entrepreneurs Have Opportunity to Test Out Startup Ideas
Noah's Park Preschool is hosting the 3rd annual Trunk-or-Treat on Friday, October 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Oct. 21: Trunk-or-Treat Returns to Noah’s Park Preschool
To end uncertainty in the collection of victim restitution from convicted offenders that resulted from public safety realignment, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill by Senator Fran Pavley that will both ensure restitution is collected from the accounts of county jail inmates and that funds aren’t double-collected from individuals on Post-Release Community Supervision.
Gov. Signs Pavley’s Crime Victim Restitution Bill
A unique Fall Festival that showcases food, interactive art and family entertainment while offering an opportunity to meet and learn from people with developmental disabilities will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the idyllic seven acre Tierra Del Sol Sunland campus.
Oct. 15: Tierra Del Sol Festival to Showcase Talents of Special Adults
A recap of some of the things that have been happening around U.S. Rep. Steve Knight's 25th Congressional District.
Around the 25th District with Rep. Steve Knight
Social justice warriors at the University of Kansas screamed obscenities at white students who didn’t feel the need for "safe spaces." Imagine that. The self-proclaimed warriors of civility and equality respond to what was supposed to be an open conversation by shouting them down, using foul language, and screaming in the faces of students with a different viewpoint.
The Safe Spacers
2014 - Towsley Canyon Loop Trail named for naturalist Don Mullally [story]
"Instead of arresting and stigmatizing young child sex trafficking victims, law enforcement will now play a critical role in helping these girls get the support and treatment they need to escape life on the streets," Supervisor Don Knabe said.
Knabe Praises Brown for Decriminalizing Prostitution for Minors
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the Valencia Ice Station ATM is stolen and Golden Valley High School students learn about preventing domestic violence. Plus, Be the Light 5k and a woman fights an aggressive form of cancer.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, September 26, 2016