Are Our Trees Safe in the CA Wildfires Right Now?

28 August, 2020

As wildfires plague California yet again, folks wonder, "Are the trees I planted through Trees for a Change a year (or two, or five) ago going to burn up?"
The answer is our trees are most likely safe. And there are several reasons why:

1) Fires need fuel. Our trees are planted to restore burned areas, so there is very little fuel for another fire to come through again soon after. It takes years to build up fuel (fuel= trees and ground cover like weeds, wildflowers, pine needles, pine cones, etc.) So, in general, the more recently our trees have been planted, the less likely a big fire will come through again any time soon.

2) The U.S. Forest Service experts plant our baby trees with science and years of experience behind them. The forests we help restore are often places that were overgrown and had an abundance of fuel for the fire that came through and destroyed everything. A current day forest management practice is to restore fire burned areas in way that will help avoid overgrowth in the future. So, our baby trees are planted 10' to 15' away from each other, which makes them grow into part of a healthier forest ecosystem that is much less likely to experience another catastrophic fire. So when you plant trees with us, you're not only contributing trees to the forest, but you're helping to make that forest less fire prone in the future too.

3) The Forest Service has for many years now been working on ways to plant more fire resistant trees. One of these ways is to use seeds from pine cones from trees that survived fire. They also have some experimental forests where they can study and cultivate trees that have thicker, more fire resistant bark and more heat tolerant pine cones. No matter where the tree baby seeds come from, they are always species native to the area they are being planted in.

So, while we can't make guarantees that the forest areas we restore will never be impacted by a future fire, the overall risk is fairly low and we feel confident that our trees will live and thrive for the benefit of all for generations to come.

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