Post Fire Botanical Assessment on the Snell Peak Preserve Yields Valuable Information

Working with consulting botanist and Napa County flora expert Jake Ruygt, the Land Trust has been conducting a post-wildfire botanical assessment of its Snell Peak Preserve.

Approximately 85% of this preserve burned in the 2014 Butts Fire, and the remaining 15% burned in the 2015 Valley Fire. Jake has documented strong recovery of woody species that resprout from the base following fire, including Silk Tassel, Leather Oak and Chaparral Pea, as well as those that regenerate from seed following fire such as White-leaved Manzanita, Jepson’s Ceanothus and Foothill Pine.

He has also observed a diverse array of wildflowers and grasses in the wildfire area, with greater than 80% cover of these species having returned to burned slopes as of spring 2016.  Jake’s work on Snell Peak has underscored the conservation value of serpentine chaparral systems as well as the ecological importance of fire on the landscape.

In a 254-acre area comprised largely of one habitat type, Jake has documented 16 special status plant species! These include a number of rare species whose global occurrence is limited to serpentine soils at the southern end of California’s Interior Coast Ranges.  Some of these rare serpentine endemics have flourished following wildfire, and will likely diminish or persist only in the soil seedbank as shrub cover returns and they await the next wildfire event.