Crews thin forest in bid to protect oaks of Jack London State Historic Park

Eloísa Ruano González, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

To protect the majestic centuries-old oaks at Jack London State Historic Park, state workers have this week begun cutting down invasive vegetation and bay laurel trees known to harbor sudden oak death, which has killed millions of oaks and tanoaks throughout Northern California.

As oak trees have died and toppled from the disease, canopy openings have widened at the park in Glen Ellen. That has let more light seep through some areas of the forest, fueling the growth of dense and more flammable plants, according to environmental officials.

Chainsaws and shears in hand, nearly a dozen workers with the California Conservation Corps made their way Tuesday up a section of the park near the Wolf House ruins to tear out broom and other brush that could act as “ladders,” allowing flames to climb onto tree canopies during a fire. They navigated their way around dead oak trees and poison oak to get to young bay laurels that threaten tanoaks and black and coast live oaks, which are more “vulnerable” to sudden oak death, according to Cyndy Shafer, a senior environmental scientist with California State Parks.

“We’re definitely not removing all of the bay trees. It’s very targeted and strategic,” Shafer said about the $150,000 project, funded by the state and aimed at reducing the fire risk and spread of the disease in the oak-dominated section of the forest.

“It’ll make it less inviting for sudden oak death,” she added. “(But) we will not be removing any mature, healthy trees.”

via Crews thin forest in bid to protect Jack | The Press Democrat.

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