City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

September 20, 2016

August 24th

Filed under: Fire, Gambel's Oak, Lookout Peak, Plants — canopus56 @ 11:20 pm

Drought, Fire and Lignotubers

7 p.m. This evening cool weather has drawn picnickers back into the canyon, but after 12 years of extended drought, the number has dwindled. Typically, these are company parties or family events like wedding receptions. Water is not available at most picnic sites due to the city not funding repair of the water system built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This and the the drought has caused the city to post no “fires signs” in the metal fire pits at each picnic site. Nonetheless, at picnic site 11 today, a company party is holding a barbecue with an open fire. I am reminded that Gambek’s Oak is the dominant tree species at that location because it is fire resistant. Gambel’s Oak survives fires by its lignotuber at its base. I look at the roots of a few of the Gambel Oak’s along the roadside and do not find bulbous face that is the classic sign of a lignotuber. Over the next 20 or 30 years the canyon will be subjected to a major fire. A similar event occurred in the late 1980s below Lookout Peak in the Killyan’s branch of upper Emigration Canyon. That area is still recovering.

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