Southern Forests Team Explores Changing Dynamics in Angeles National Forest

As a part of ongoing Southern Montane Forests project efforts, partnering researchers from USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and US Forest Service visited areas of the Angeles National Forest that were burned in the Powerhouse and Lake Fires and gained first-hand insight into how climate change is impacting forest dynamics.



As a part of ongoing Southern California Montane Forests project efforts, partnering researchers Dr. Carolyn Enquist, Deputy Director, USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, and Dr. Sarah Hennessy, Associate Ecologist, US Forest Service (USFS), visited areas of the Angeles National Forest that were burned in the Powerhouse and Lake Fires. With USFS Resource Officer Steve Bear, they explored severely burned sites where shrubs and oaks are resprouting, but conifer recovery is lagging behind.


The visit highlighted important forest dynamics, which serve as a key building block for the Southern California Montane Forests Project. Periodic maintenance treatments, such as prescribed fire and thinning, are needed to maintain forest health. However, wildfires are running ahead of forest management and are burning overgrown stands so severely that natural recovery processes are compromised. Under current drought conditions, forest re-establishment by young conifers is less likely at the lowest, driest elevations, and places that formerly supported conifer forests may transition to mixed oaks and shrubs.



The Southern California Montane Forests Project is a collaborative partnership funded by the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center that brings together a unique partnership with USGS, U.S. Forest Service, the Institute for Ecological Monitoring and Management at San Diego State University, and the Climate Science Alliance. Through collaborative planning sessions, guided by stakeholder input, partners are developing a scientific assessment and creating a conservation strategy for southern California’s montane forests to advance our collective understanding of the vulnerabilities and challenges facing these forests and identify the opportunities and strategies for increasing forest resilience. To learn more about this effort, please visit: www.climatesciencealliance.org/southern-forests.