The Chaparral Ecosystem - Conservation Action Committee

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The Chaparral Ecosystem - Conservation Action Committee
The Chaparral
Ecosystem
Key to protecting California’s
watersheds and biodiversity.
Presented by Richard W. Halsey
Santa Monica
Mountains
Chaparral is
California’s most
extensive,
characteristic
ecosystem…
it’s not a “Forest”
Map from Keeley, J.E. and F.W. Davis. 2007. Chaparral.
In M.G. Barbour (ed), Terrestrial vegetation of
California. University of California Press, Los Angeles.
Chaparral
a unique plant community
characterized by…
drought-hardy shrubs,
a Mediterranean-type climate,
infrequent wildfire,
and increasing numbers of people living nearby.
FORESTS
Chaparral
suffers an
identity problem
SHRUBLANDS
GRASSLANDS
It’s the ecosystem
in between
Chaparral deserves to be
properly identified
National
Chaparral
Recreation Area
?
Protecting chaparral is critical to protecting
biodiversity in California*
*it’s not just “brush”
Threats
Land Abuse
Fire
“Fuel” Reduction
Simple Truths of the Chaparral
The 5 most important…
From Rundel and
Pompelli
Truth #1: Coastal Southern California enjoys
a Mediterranean-type Climate.* *it’s not a desert!
Truth #2: Chaparral is a diverse, rich ecosystem.*
*it’s not all the same
1. Red shanks
2. Ceanothus
3. Chamise
4. Mixed
5. Manzanita
6. Scrub Oak
7. Montane
Truth #3: Chaparral can be eliminated by
the wrong kind of fire.*
*it’s not “made” to burn
Too many fires, no chaparral
1970
1970
2001
1970
2001
2003
Fires occurring less than 15 - 20 years apart can
convert chaparral
to weedy grasslands
Best to think of chaparral as
adapted to particular fire patterns
Truth #4: Being dense, impenetrable and
prone to huge, intense fires is the natural
condition of chaparral.*
*it’s not the fault of environmentalists or the fire service
Are large fires inevitable
in Southern California?
During the past three or four days destructive fires have been
raging in San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego… It is a
year of disaster, wide-spread destruction of life and property and, well, a year of horrors.
The Daily Courier, San Bernardino
. September, 1889
Large, infrequent wildfires are
natural and inevitable in
California
It’s the high frequency of fires that is not natural
Age of vegetation has very little to do
with the occurrence of such large fires
The most effective way to live safely in a
fire-prone environment is to adapt to
nature rather than attempting to force
nature to adapt to us.*
*nature will always win
A. Location
B. Building Design
C. Fuel Management
A. Location
Eaves
B. Design
Wildland
Vents
Roofing
C. Fuel Management
30 feet
50%
70 feet
Panic replacing reason
"The amount of fuel modification necessary shall take into
account the flammability of the structure as affected by
building material, building standards, location, and type of
vegetation. Fuels shall be maintained in a condition so that
a wildfire burning under average weather conditions would
be unlikely to ignite the structure.” - PRC 4291
URBAN FUELS
Heat
sink
Ember
catchers
Zone 1
Metal patio
furniture
Properly maintained
plants and trees
around a home can
reduce fire risk.
The Solution? A Sustainable Fire Environment
Create sustainable, fire-safe environments for our homes by
starting from the house out rather than from the wildland in.
-Location
-Building Design
-Fuel Management
Individual
Responsibility
Truth#5: Old-growth chaparral is a
beautiful, rare natural resource*
*it does not “need” to burn
Old-growth chaparral remains a healthy, dynamic plant
community that is critical in protecting what’s left of
California’s priceless biodiversity
Please join us to protect what’s left. www.californiachaparral.org