We are enjoying a glorious spring on the mountain this year, made extra joyous because of a break from the long drought. I am always amazed at nature’s regenerative powers. The oaks that looked almost desiccated are bursting with new growth and flowers, The wildflowers are flourishing in spite of the dry fall, and the streams and springs are flowing like it was the good old days. Chaparral seems to be able to hibernate through drought, and it even had a beautiful bloom in the winter on plants that looked dead in the fall.
The hills are alive with the sound of spring, which is weedwhackers, chain saws, and chippers. This is the time to begin reducing fuel for fires this summer and fall, and that will be the flip side of the abundant spring growth. Chop, chip, shred, compost, and spread that overgrowth. It is good to cut down the weeds before they go to seed. Here at the Trout Club our multi year project to make a 200 foot parklike setting from our homes and outbuildings, and on our common property into the surrounding chaparral, continues. Because we have reduced some of the larger weeds, like castor, wild tobacco, fennel, and Malva, the grasses have taken over much of our land. These are much easier to manage and staying diligent over the past 10 years has enabled us to keep the ladder fuels from getting away from us.
I don’t want to become complacent about the end of the drought. This very well may be a reprieve, so I am not going to stop making offerings to the rain Gods just yet. I am installing shower shutoff valves on my shower heads so we can turn off the water and lather up, I am not planting any thirsty plants, and I still have more work I want to do with berms and swales to capture rainwater. I encourage you to do the same and also to harden your homes with fire resistant materials. With the population of California growing so fast it is only a matter of time before our supplies are maxed out again.
Meanwhile it is nice to see how the pine trees on top of the Santa Ynez range are thriving, Gibralter reservoir is full, Cachuma is half full, and all is well in the land for now. Time to go for a hike, and to stop and smell the flowers.
© 2017 Wildland Residents Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
The WRA and SMPERS logos are registered trademarks of the the Wildland Residents Association, Inc.