saguaro lake fire
The red dye helps airplane pilots track where drops have already been made so as to avoid re-treating the same zone. But this article is actually about fires in the entire desert ecosystem, and it is necessary to also discuss the impacts that flames have upon other species. The burned landscape of the Vekol Valley, with the Maricopa Mountains in the distance. Read Full Article. This saguaro has already started dying, dropping the first part of one of its branches only a few weeks after the Vekol fire came and went. These is so much good information here that would benefit the desert if it were to be shared. Fire jumped Bush Hwy at Butcher Jones. Saguaro Lake is also a popular location for fishing. The fuel that carried the Vekol Fire: Invasive Mediterranean grass, Schismus arabicus and S. barbatus. Because older desert trees have often survived where they are for many decades, and sometimes even centuries, dead leaf and branch litter underneath them is commonly significant. There was a problem saving your notification. As you know by now after reading, some ecosystems benefit from occasional fires. The Arizona Department of Health Services is expected to allow gyms, theaters, water parks and some bars to reopen starting Thursday. While no evacuations have been put into place, there are some road closures and restrictions to be aware of along Bush Highway and Saguaro Lake. Perhaps the most important ecological dynamic to examine is the way fire impacts the various desert leguminous trees, including palo verde (Parkinsonia spp.

The natural vegetation community is fairly sparse, and comprised mainly of widely-spaced creosote bushes, bursage, and occasional small desert trees such as foothills palo verde and ironwood. One chainfruit cholla escaped the flames. Authorities said the fire was actively moving north and northeast fueled by winds and dry vegetation. These annual weeds are designed by evolution to grow rapidly and survive easily in a variety of conditions; therefore sudden increases in fertility in and around zones where retardant was applied may well serve to increase their growth and fecundity in terms of seed production. Some road closures are in place due to firefighting efforts. Sure, some desert plants can get going in the wide open (bursage and creosote are two) but it takes decades for them to become large enough to provide a useful amount of protective cover for other seedlings to join them. I grew up in Vekol Valley, and was there when the fire happened. The Saguaro del Norte Recreation site is near the dam and includes Saguaro Lake Marina, which includes a restaurant and boat concession, a Maricopa County Sheriff's aid station, picnic tables, restrooms and boat ramps.

Above, soaptree yucca plants (Yucca elata) lie dead after the fire. This twin pair of adolescents seem to have escaped. A barely-recognizable Engelmann hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) lies dead at the base of a fatally wounded ocotillo. All rights reserved. The majority of severely charred saguaros will actually start rotting from rampant infections caused by pathogenic invasion into the numerous cracks, splits, and blisters that cover their blackened trunks within a few weeks. This is not much time in the scheme of things. This particular ecological dynamic’s importance to the perpetuation of desert species can scarcely be overstated. The trail was easy to follow and brought us up close to both the lake and the variety of plant life along its shores. The main Vekol Valley is unlikely to ever host viable populations of saguaros ever again, sadly. Nest material that somehow avoided being burned in the arms of a saguaro. This one was burned down to white ash and stands no hope for regenerating.

In order to find solutions to this particular ecological crisis of widespread fires everywhere across the West, we need to fund some research into those biocontrols and genetic modification methods which show promise. The same forces that act to kill saguaros and palo verdes such as thin bark and the need for nurse plants to aid in seedling survival operate upon ocotillos just as much as they do upon the other plants covered. This demise via disease (particularly bacterial necrosis, Erwinia cacticida) will occur long before photosynthetic starvation can set in via resource depletion. No evacuations have been put in place, but there are some road restrictions, including along Bush Highway to Saguaro Lake. Add’l aircraft & ground resources ordered for morning. Fires might indeed not be a threat very often due to generally low fuel loads, but clearly once every decade or two, when a wet cycle arrives and changes that balance, the odds of fires now are drastically higher. The fire is moving NE away from any communities. Fire crews initially responded to the wildfire burning north of Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest on Aug. 19. Fire-wilted pencil chollas (Cylindropuntia arbuscula) are another casualty of the Vekol Fire despite the smear of retardant on the hill in the distance. Neither plant will survive, and there will be no more seeds from either one to help potentially repopulate the missing parent plants. 200,000 acres destroyed and the Saguaro loss is just unbelievable. At approximately 9:30 p.m., authorities said the highway would remain closed overnight. This foothills palo verde tree (Parkinsonia microphylla) has suffered the same fate as some of the saguaros shown above, which is to say that the green photosynthetic trunk of the tree has been partially killed by heat rising from the flames below them on the undersides of the stems. The fire retardant didn’t help this Ferocactus acanthodes, sadly. Well, sort of right. This plant will probably resprout, but since yucca growth is generally slow it will be a decade or two before it is capable of blooming again. Yes, many other plants were lost and well as wildlife. We can’t lose hope that it will clear, if we apply ourselves to proper solutions, however. If this catches fire, the tree is doomed. I ranch in Vekol and have noticed signs of the fire for years – there are still small branches of burnt creosote poking out of desert floor and the few saguaros left on the flats still bare fire damage at the base. Despite what must have been a fairly small and low-intensity burn, the fact that it happened at all is devastating to the plant community. Most of the state of California is overrun with invasive mustards and grasses as well. The damaged valleys of the Maricopa Mountains in a side channel to the larger Vekol Valley, which runs to the west of this scene. Burned soaptree yuccas (Yucca elata) lie fallen in the ashen landscape. In drought years there will be no grass whatsoever. Thank you for your input. Tour-boat trips are available on the Desert Belle: (480) 984-2425. But a tree burned completely down to white ash, as in the photo above, is so thoroughly cremated that there is no surviving tissue.

This is the blooming and fruiting season for saguaros. Chollas have dense spines that ignite very easily and burn fiercely, if briefly, like a firework.

SRP officials say the fire is threatening power lines that bring energy to the Valley and they are asking customers to reduce their electricity use from 3-9 p.m. 858 likes. Even cacti that don’t have that many spines suffer from this vulnerability. A forestry representative said the fire was moving away from homes in the area. Biological control methods such as finding appropriate pathogens, parasites, or plant predators is probably the best way to rein in these pestiferous weeds and stop them from taking over as much of the land as they have done. There are both many similarities with, and key differences between, how saguaros and Joshua trees respond to fires, and it is worth understanding both aspects. Who would think that simple grasses only a few inches tall would create such a threat, not just to saguaros and Joshua trees, but to millions of acres of forest and sagebrush and other biomes that they have invaded elsewhere as well?

Note the extensive tan scabbing on the trunk where the spines burned off of the ribs. A New Invasive Weed In Arizona: Globe Chamomile (aka Stinknet), Oncosiphon piluliferum, SARA’s Crack and Balanced Rock Cove, a Nice Hiking Destination Near Lake Havasu City AZ, The Gloriously Orange Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus), Diagnosing and Treating Bacterial Necrosis (Erwinia cacticida) Infections in Saguaro Cactus, Conservation of Echinocactus polycephalus in Imperial County, California.

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