MENDOCINO CO., 11/14/17 — Now that the the fire is over and the rains have returned, people are trying to figure out the best way to repair not only their homes, but also their land. On Wednesday, November 15, the Mendocino County Farm Bureau is hosting a free workshop with representatives of local, state, and federal organizations to provide advice and share resources about revegetation, preventing erosion, tree removal, and more for people living on agricultural or rural lands affected by the Redwood Fire.
The county is working with the state and federal agencies in town to identify priorities for revegetation and erosion work, including reseeding the fire-ravaged areas of Highway 101 between Redwood Valley and Willits, and stabilizing the area around Tomki Creek. Implementing erosion controls, ongoing road maintenance, debris removal, and preventing flooding have been ongoing themes during the regular fire reports provided at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meetings. Aside from county agencies, community organizations are also gathering information for residents who want to begin restoring their land, and projects are underway to help people access resources for replanting. How to best replant with native species, and remove or take care of fire-damaged trees has been a major source of concern for people affected by the fires.
The Farm Bureau meeting takes place Nov. 15 from 9am – 1:30pm at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School Street in Ukiah, please register here. Representatives from the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, Department of Agriculture, the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, Cal Fire, the University of California Cooperative Extension, the United States Department of Agriculture, Mendocino Winegrowers Inc., and the Sandedrin Native Plant Society. There will be an opportunity to ask individual questions from 12:30 – 1:30pm.
The University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) will also be hosting an emergency preparedness day on November 29, more information will be published when it is available. The Good Farm Fund has compiled a list of resources for farms affected by the fires.
What about the trees?
Residents have repeatedly raised the issue of tree care and tree removal at the community meetings devoted to the fire, urging their neighbors to consider the types of species on their property and how they might respond to fire damage before removing living trees, and encouraging replanting with native species. PG&E, as well as the contractors working with the Army Corps debris clean-up program, will be removing trees and wood debris free of charge. However, some property owners expressed unhappiness with the speed and selection of which trees have been removed by PG&E, noting that certain species will not show signs of regrowth for over a year despite having survived the fire, and have requested that property owners have greater input to prevent further removal of beloved fire damaged trees. Others have asked for that wood debris and dead trees be removed more quickly.
Property owners who want to participate can call 1-800-743-5000 to schedule an inspection. To qualify for removal, “wood must be easily accessible by equipment or machinery, be larger than four inches in diameter and six feet long, and wood must be within 50 feet of a permanent structure or have the ability to impede traffic, roll into roads, road drainage structures or watercourses.”
To address the loss of oak trees during the fire, HREC, in collaboration with the Native Plant Society and the Oak Granary in Potter Valley, are collecting acorns as part of a long-term oak replanting project and creation of an “acorn bank.” The acorns collected locally will be used to repopulate oak trees both on the HREC properties and given to private landowners who want to replant oaks. The acorn bank will be available as not just this fall, but as part of a long-term replanting project.
People who have a particularly nice oak tree and want to contribute to the collection need to follow certain guidelines, said HREC’s Community Educator Hannah Bird. More details will be available at the Farm Bureau meeting, but you can also contact Bird to participate in the project at 707-744-1424 ext. 105 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get advice, dates for future planting sessions, and more info about the acorn bank and other revegetation resources. Acorns can be dropped off with Bird at HREC or with Jennifer Lyons at the Ukiah Public Library.
Bird recommends these tips for collecting and planting: Collect directly from standing living trees, ideally by placing a tarp under the branches and shaking down acorns that fall easily with a long pole. Collectors should record the oak species of oak and the location of the collection and site details, such as aspect, soils, associated vegetation, etc. to help connect with nearby landowners who want to replant in similar microclimates. Collected acorns should be given a 24 hour float test: place them in a large bucket, about half way to the top of the bucket and fill the rest with water. Allow 24 full hours of soaking and reject any that float. Then store the acorns in cool dry area until ready to plant, or refrigerate in sealed zip lock plastic bags.
For planting, direct seeding in the soil is best for hardiness. It’s best to place between five and ten in each location in case they don’t germinate. The best time is during the fall after rains have wet the soil at least 2-3in but before mid-winter. Planting sites should be weeded in a 3-4 foot radius, with bare mineral soil exposed if possible. Acorns can be directly seeded into the top layer of soil. Please plant in areas already altered such as rangeland/vineyard perimeters. Places with natural tree shelter such as downed wood or sprouting bushes will help the sprouts survive, as will mulching, watering regularly when possible, and weeding for the first several growing seasons.