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Book Review of George E. Gruell's
Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests

Review of George E. Gruell's Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849
By J. Zimmerman

Photographic documentation of the Sierra Nevada ecosystem over 150 years "from the varied and generally open-canopy habitats of early European-American settlement days to the dense declining forests of today".

The most striking part of the book is the set of paired photographs, often taken a century or more apart, in a swath of the Sierra Nevada that is about 200 miles long and 80 miles wide, from Susanville in the north to a little south of a line from Visalia to Lone Pine in the south.

Problems due to over-zealous fire suppression

Because of the harsh conditions of the Sierra Nevada, especially near the tree line, trees may be stunted so that they appear more like shrubs.

Gruell's chapter "Cause for Concern" lists some of these many adverse results from lack of fire, which leads to thickening forest and shrub land cover:

Natural Frequency of Forest Fire

Gruell summarizes estimates of fire frequency writing "Studying of fire scars gives a conservative estimate of fire frequency".

Pre-1900 he estimates the average interval was 10-20 years.

Then he estimates fire frequency post-1900:

Book Choice

Sierra Nevada Tree Identifier. My First Summer in the Sierra
by John Muir.
Buy Sierra Nevada: The Naturalist's Companion Sierra Nevada: The Naturalist's Companion
by Verna R. Johnson. Published University of California Press.
The Ecology of Fire
by Robert J. Whelan.
Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849
by George E. Gruell.

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