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Native Plants Recovering from October Wildfires


Last October's wildfires ravaged much of San Diego County's native plants and animals. The fires burned nearly 600 undeveloped acres that are part of the Wild Animal Park near Escondido. This week a team of ecologists are taking stock of how the burned area is recovering. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

While the Wild Animal Park facility survived the fires, much of the land surrounding the area was burned. Bryan Endress is a plant ecologist and part of the team assessing the damage to plants.

Endress : We're tracking regeneration of native shrubs and evaluating what sort of exotics seem to be making their ways into these areas.

What he's seen so far this week is a mix of native and non-native plants growing on the property.

Endress: We have quite a bit of exotics coming in - most of the black mustard that you see, a lot of the yellow that you see on the hillsides all around San Diego are there, but we have encouraging signs of native shrub regeneration.

Endress says recovery of native species is critical to reducing future wildfire risk.

Endress: So in these areas that are dominated by the exotic grasses they're fire prone for probably eight months of the year whereas a lot of the native coastal sage scrub if you look in the hillsides now they're still quite green. They don't become fire prone until later in the season. So that obviously impacts the wildfires that we have down here.

Endress says crews will plant seeds and take other steps to ensure the return of native plants and animals on the property.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News. 

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