DEER IN CALIFORNIA ARE CONSIDERED A “early successional” wildlife species, meaning that they rely on an abundance of new vegetative plant material that germinates or resprouts following fire. Biologists use the term “habitat disturbance” to describe a change in plant succession. Herbaceous plants (the grasses and wildflower species), then shrubs, are first to recolonize burned areas. This is followed by what most folks call a forest – the trees. Hence, the “succession” from grasses/forbs to shrubs to trees.
Where wildfires occurred, deer populations – as reflected in part by the change in harvest of deer during hunting season – began to increase after a three-year lag time, more than in areas not subject to large wildfires. Deer biologists know the benefits in improved forest habitat condition from fire are greatest from 3-30 years after a fire.
Project #013-15 was funded by the California Deer Association for $25,000 and is a Habitat Improvement and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project. Oak woodlands are abundant around the Weaver Basin and surrounding mountains, providing important deer habitat. These oak woodlands are suffering the effects of fire suppression and development, resulting in reduced habitat quality. The purpose of this project is to enhance habitat quality. The project area is one of several prescribed fire units the Trinity River Management Unit has been understory burning in for the last two years. On October 12, 2016 the Trinity River Management Unit was able to complete 130 acres of under burning on the Five Cent project bringing the total area treated to 275 acres of National Forest System lands and 7 acres of private lands.
The test fire began at 10:00 at the northeast corner of Unit 30-1. At approximately 10:30 the decision was made to continue with ignitions and firing continued along control lines to the south along the dozer line and to the southwest along the handlines. Firing continued into unit 31-1 and a small portion of unit 31-2 at 14:00 and all ignitions were completed by 18:30. During a patrol of the prescribe fire on Oct. 13th, numerous black tailed deer were observed within the unit boundary eating fresh dropped acorns.
All resources utilized on the burn were from the Shasta-Trinity N.F. and included one hotshot crew, 6 engines, and one dozer for contingency. Post fire effects monitoring will be conducted with the agreements that are in place, with funding utilized from the above agreement, by the Watershed Research and Training Center. Monitoring will be focused on First Order Fire Effects including surface fuel consumption, mortality in the overstory, brush consumption and any impacts to trail systems utilized in the prescribed
Treating 275 acres of thick understory, CDA would provide the critical funding to finish the Five Cent Burn project.
fire for holding features. Approximately 92 acres remain to be treated in Units 31-2 and 31-3.
The California Deer Association funded $25,000 to be used on this project and the Watershed Research and Training Center provided $7500 for monitoring and to assist with implementation. Cost for the remaining units is expected to be significantly lower due to the “buffer” created by this burn.