Lightning and Flames: Stebbins Burns Again, 8/17/2020

I have been studying fire recovery at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve for five years now, since the Wragg Fire in 2015. It has been an amazing journey watching the ecosystem grow and thrive after the fire.

It is almost certain that Stebbins burned again this week in the early days of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. When Stebbins burned in 2015, it had been about thirty years since the last fire. Thirty years between fires is a relatively healthy interval for the chaparral and woodland ecosystems at the Reserve. Five years between fires is not.

These habitats are resilient and plants will regrow and animals return immediately, but we are inexorably changing them as we edge the climate further past the point of no return. California has always burned, and needs to burn, but in small, patchy fires, not like this.

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