Fire Followers in the High Desert of San Diego County
April 6-7, 2018
Instructor: Tom Oberbauer
For this endeavor, we will be exploring an area that burned in 2017 in Culp Valley. Culp Valley is a very interesting location because it represents high desert with vegetation that is akin to a form of chaparral, but it also supports species that are obviously desert species. We will be looking for fire following plants and any rare species that might be found. While the rainfall has been very low this year, one characteristic of burned areas is the plants often grow and flower more vigorously than plants in the adjacent unburned areas.
San Diego County is known to be one of the most biologically diverse Counties in the United States. One of the reasons for its biodiversity is the variety of habitats that exist here. The reasons that the habitat diversity is so great relates to the highly varied topography that influences the amount of rain that falls, a variety of geologic formations that in turn affect the soil composition, and the movements and migrations of vegetation that must have occurred over the previous thousands and millions of years.
The deserts and parts of the Mountains enjoy some summer monsoonal moisture, but the majority falls in winter. This leaves vegetation vulnerable to fires after the long, dry summer months. Chaparral and to some degree sage scrub habitats and even some desert habitats seem to be adapted to periodic fires. In fact, they are so adapted that there are a number of annuals and herbaceous perennial plants that don’t appear and flower until the season after a fire has occurred. These species either lay dormant as seed for dozens or even hundreds of years before a fire occurs or they exist as geophytic bulbs and corms that may grow a leaf once in a while but do not flourish and flower until a fire has occurred.
Friday Lecture: 7:30-8:30 p.m. (refreshments provided)
Saturday Field Class: 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Class Registration Fee: $60 / $50 for ABF members
Lecture Only: $5 (no pre-registration required)
Meet: Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center
401 Tilting T Dr.
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Bring: water, lunch, sun protection, layered clothing, notebook, sturdy hiking shoes, an EpiPen if you are allergic to bees, and hiking poles if desired.
Hike Difficulty: Moderate off-trail, rocky hiking with a some elevation gain will be required