Naneum Meadows Revisited 09/07/2016

The Table Mountain Fires started on September 8, 2012 and burned 43,312 acres.  Most of the area burned was high elevation forest that experiences fire infrequently.  Trees in the area are lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and western larch.  There is the occasional ponderosa pine or Douglas-fir.   I put some photo points into the Naneum Meadows area at  the 5,300 foot level in 2013.  Here are some results at the end of the fourth growing season.   This area is near Blewett Pass on the Cle Elum Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State. 

 

 NNMW-6 was taken as a composite panorama using a 45mm Tilt/Shift lens.  Here you can compare the image I took on June 18, 2013 with the one I did on September 7, 2016. The log is Engelmann spruce.  The predominant plant in the 2016 photo is a species of willow. Fireweed is also abundant.  There are many lodgepole pine seedlings hidden among the taller plants. This is a wet area where the fire did not burn real hot. 

NNMW-6 was taken as a composite panorama using a 45mm Tilt/Shift lens.  Here you can compare the image I took on June 18, 2013 with the one I did on September 7, 2016. The log is Engelmann spruce.  The predominant plant in the 2016 photo is a species of willow. Fireweed is also abundant.  There are many lodgepole pine seedlings hidden among the taller plants. This is a wet area where the fire did not burn real hot. 

 NNMW-4 June 8, 2013  The curved sticks in this photo were subalpine fir saplings, bent over by the wind generated by the fire, and dried in place. The duff layer of the soil has been retained, indicating that the fire did not burn here for long.   June 18, 2013

NNMW-4 June 8, 2013  The curved sticks in this photo were subalpine fir saplings, bent over by the wind generated by the fire, and dried in place. The duff layer of the soil has been retained, indicating that the fire did not burn here for long.   June 18, 2013

 NNMW-4  September 7, 2016. Fireweed and willow are abundant.  Lodgepole pine seedlings can be seen, as a darker shade of green. 

NNMW-4  September 7, 2016. Fireweed and willow are abundant.  Lodgepole pine seedlings can be seen, as a darker shade of green. 

 NNMW-8 June 8, 2013  This is a site that burned long and hot.  The duff layer has all been burned away and there is nothing left but ash and mineral soil.  Nutrients have been lost.   

NNMW-8 June 8, 2013  This is a site that burned long and hot.  The duff layer has all been burned away and there is nothing left but ash and mineral soil.  Nutrients have been lost.

 

 NNMW-8  September 7, 2016.  This site is showing surprising resilience.  Plants besides the lodgepole pine seedlings include pearly everlasting, willow, gooseberry, fireweed, and canadian thistle. 

NNMW-8  September 7, 2016.  This site is showing surprising resilience.  Plants besides the lodgepole pine seedlings include pearly everlasting, willow, gooseberry, fireweed, and canadian thistle. 

 NNMW-7-1  June 18, 2013.  Sometimes the heat of a fire is largely in the crowns of the trees and at ground level there is light burning.  Seen here are scorched subalpine fir saplings.   The dead trees are all lodgepole pine.   

NNMW-7-1  June 18, 2013.  Sometimes the heat of a fire is largely in the crowns of the trees and at ground level there is light burning.  Seen here are scorched subalpine fir saplings.   The dead trees are all lodgepole pine.

 

 NNMW-7-1  September 7, 2016.  The scorched sapling subalpine firs have surprised me with their resilience.

NNMW-7-1  September 7, 2016.  The scorched sapling subalpine firs have surprised me with their resilience.

 Lodgepole pine seedlings were established from seed dropped from serotinous cones at the time of the fire in 2013.  Lodgepole pine has cones that open the year they are formed, and others held together by resins and referred to as serotinous.  Serotinous cones open when there is enough heat to melt the resins, spilling seeds on to the ground. 

Lodgepole pine seedlings were established from seed dropped from serotinous cones at the time of the fire in 2013.  Lodgepole pine has cones that open the year they are formed, and others held together by resins and referred to as serotinous.  Serotinous cones open when there is enough heat to melt the resins, spilling seeds on to the ground. 

 Four years have passed since the Naneum Meadows area burned.  The progeny from years of stored up lodgepole pine cones can be seen here.   I did not see seedlings of any other tree species. Lodgepole pine stands are known to produce up to 320,000 seeds per acre!

Four years have passed since the Naneum Meadows area burned.  The progeny from years of stored up lodgepole pine cones can be seen here.   I did not see seedlings of any other tree species. Lodgepole pine stands are known to produce up to 320,000 seeds per acre!

 Scattered mature western larch trees survived Table Mountain Fire in 2012.  I was hoping to see larch seedlings, but found none even under the trees.  Apparently larch does not reliably produce cones every year.  The larch has been outdone by lodgepole pine.  If a re-burn occurs before the lodgepole pines have produced a significant number of cones, then larch has a chance at being the predominant tree in the area.  

Scattered mature western larch trees survived Table Mountain Fire in 2012.  I was hoping to see larch seedlings, but found none even under the trees.  Apparently larch does not reliably produce cones every year.  The larch has been outdone by lodgepole pine.  If a re-burn occurs before the lodgepole pines have produced a significant number of cones, then larch has a chance at being the predominant tree in the area.