Fire Mosaic

With birds as guides, the Fire Mosaic bandana depicts four essential phases of a California landscape, starting and ending with fire. The art was created by Robin Lee Carlson, author of The Cold Canyon Fire Journals, an illustrated journey through one fire-swept ecosystem that unearths revelations about nature’s necessary and nourishing fire cycles. Produced in partnership between Carlson’s publisher Heyday Books and CalWild, this fundraising drive empowered a public land advocacy nonprofit, a literary nonprofit, and an ecologist-artist to continue documenting, advocating for, and ultimately supporting public lands and all the lives that thrive there.

Megafires have dominated headlines as climate change compounds the effects of short-sighted forest management, human incursion into the wildland urban interface, and a lack of understanding of the staggering importance of fire for ecological health. In Fire Mosaic, Carlson brought together four essential fire/regrowth phases of California ecosystems. Birds lead the way through these habitats, from charred and blackened landscape to lush and leafy forest. The four phases of fire and habitat change also serve as reminders of the need for varied patterns of burning, the “landscape mosaic” of types and ages of fires. Before settlers, Indigenous populations managed forest health through controlled burns with an annual average of 3 million acres per year. European settlement introduced forestry practices that exclude fire from the land, creating forests starved for fire. Now we must re-establish holistic forest management, including controlled burning to restore balance to our California landscapes.

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