Ecosystem slowly recovering from huge 2003 California wildfire

Ecosystem slowly recovering from huge 2003California wildfire

14 November 2006

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USA — Scientists report there are signs the ecosystem is slowly recoveringthree years after the largest wildfire in California history wiped out wholeforests and disrupted native animals.

Several long-term studies conducted after the deadly 2003 Cedar Fire foundcertain trees and shrubs have re-sprouted while some animals have moved backinto burned areas.

Concerns remain, however. Exotic, weed-like grasses have flourished in somecharred forest land, choking off native plants and threatening to displace smallmammals.

One of the hardest hit was Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (east of San Diego). Thepark was temporarily closed to the public after the Cedar Fire roared through,leveling almost all pine and conifer trees. Oak trees were burned from theground up, but their bases mostly survived.

Researchers from San Diego State University who surveyed the park after the firereported mixed progress. A rainy season last year also led to an explosion ofinvasive plants, which could increase future fire hazards. And, pine trees havefailed to re-grow.

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