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Rare Walk: Finding Mount Diablo's Fire Followers

Stroll with a naturalist and learn about post-fire wildflowers.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Brad Heckman
    Head out onto Mount Diablo and find the wildflowers blooming in the Morgan Fire's wake. Date: Saturday, May 3.

    SPRINGTIME NATURE STROLLS... are common when the weather gets fine, as common as a bee in lavender or noisy birds on a branch. The wilderness is doing its best bursting show-off job, and everything is looking mighty fecund, meaning a day spent legging it among bud and blossom is restorative to body and mind.

    But not all flowers, or flower-growing areas, are created equal. Rather, not every spot that boasts blossoms share similar histories, stories, or, perhaps most importantly, futures. Fire, of course, changes the landscape in radical and profound ways, as was the case with the Morgan Fire, which swept over 3,100 acres of Mount Diablo in September. And while viewing the charred chaparral of an ashy hillside can make it seem as though it will be some years, or even decades, before anything leafy sprouts again, there are the fire followers to consider, those hearty and unusual plants that can pop up after a fire pushes through a wild area.

    FIRE FOLLOWERS... are showing in the wilderness area now, a sight that a Diablo rep calls a "silver lining" to the devastation of the late summer fire. "These unique species require an element of the fire-heat, smoke, ash, or access to sunlight in order to repoplulate." The good news is that "the mountain is already recovering itself after the blazes..." and experts are heading out during a 24-hour "Bio Blitz" to identify the flowers and rarely seen species. These are species "never seen on the mountain," says botanist Heath Bartosh, who is set to lead a public walk on the topic.

    YOU CAN JOIN... the botanist on a Mount Diablo stroll on Saturday, May 3 as he talks about the fire-following flowers, pointing out where the buds are popping up. You'll head into some of the burn area, which is closed to the public. Reserve a spot at 925-947-3535925-947-3535.