Eastern Mojave Vegetation Effects of the Hackberry Complex Fire in Mojave National Preserve, June 22-25, 2005.  
 

Tom Schweich  

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Topics in this Article:
Effects
Plants
Literature Cited
 This page is a work-in-progress as I put together the information I can assemble about this devastating fire.

Literature Cited:
- Burn Area Emergency Response Team, 2005.  

The Hackberry Complex fires began on the Mojave National Preserve on June 22, 2005 at approximately 12:00 Noon as a dry lightning storm rolled through the Preserve. Three separate fires on Hackberry Mountain were reported by a San Bernardino County Road Department that eventually burned together to become the Hackberry Fire. At approximately 5:00 PM hours a second storm rolled through the Preserve and two additional fires were reported near the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center. These fires became the Narrow and Wild Horse fires. The Brant Fire was reported at 6:00 PM and the Ranch Fire was reported by residents at 7:00 PM. At the peak of the incident there were 1,133 personnel on the fire including 5 helicopters, four air tankers, two single-engine air tankers (SEAT), and 15 engine crews. A total of 70,736 acres were burned. The cost to date to suppress the Hackberry Complex fires is approximately 3.1 million dollars.

Literature Cited:
- Burn Area Emergency Response Team, 2005.  

Vegetation resources were impacted to varying degrees as fire intensities varied across the landscape. Combinations of wind, fuel, slope and plume-driven fire behavior contributed to difficult suppression conditions. Thunderstorms moving through the area caused downburst winds with little to no precipitation over the fire area. Suppression resources were pulled back to safety zones several times during the incident. The Mojave Desert was lush with vegetation following a record-setting winter and therefore rates of spread were extreme.

Literature Cited:
- Burn Area Emergency Response Team, 2005.  

Hackberry Complex fire suppression actions included construction of 2.3 miles of hand line. Fire suppression forces impacted 47 miles of roads. In addition, associated suppression actions included 2 fire camps, and multiple helispots. Approximately 19,129 gallons of retardant, 30,000 gallons of foam, and 96,010 gallons of wet water was delivered by aircraft.
  The Park Service has posted a map showing the spread of the fire at http://www.nps.gov/moja/hackberry.pdf
 

Effects

 
 

Wild Horse Mesa

 

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 40010

Locations: Wild Horse Mesa.
Full Size ImageThe north face of Wild Horse Mesa after the Hackberry Complex Fire, June 22-25, 2005.  

By the fire map, the entire top of Wild Horse Mesa burned, as well as the entire north face of the mesa. However, as you can see in the left middle of this photo, the area underlain by the white soil (Winkler Formation, lacustrine limestone) did not burn.

Full Size ImageNorth face of Wild Horse Mesa after the Hackberry Complex Fire  
Some areas on the slopes of the mesa did not burn, presumably because of the sparse vegetation. My plots in Frasera albomarginata are found in this area, and may not have burned.
 

Wild Horse Canyon

 
 

Lower Wild Horse Canyon

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 74800

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImagePatchy burned areas in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  

The fire came down this face of Wild Horse Mesa in the lower canyon, leaving patchy areas unburned. Photograph taken June 27, 2005 by Phil Woodall.

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 59000

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImagePatchy areas burned on the slopes of Wild Horse Mesa.  

 

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 57000

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageBurned slopes in mid-Wild Horse Canyon.  

There is a rock outcrop in the mid-section of Wild Horse Canyon. This is an identified archeological site and, supposedley, site of some rock rings, although I have never found them. At this location the fire burned right down to the wash and Wild Horse Canyon Road.

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 55500

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageNear the top of lower Wild Horse Canyon  

The upper section of lower Wild Horse Canyon was completely burned by the Hackberry Complex Fire, June 22-25, 2005, except for some small patches on the other side of the wash and up near the rim of the mesa.

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 43000

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageLooking south into Wild Horse Canyon.  

The upper Wild Horse Canyon has several areas with well-developed pediments. This one burned completely in the Hackberry Complex Fire.
 

Upper Wild Horse Canyon


Full Size ImageLooking east across upper Wild Horse Canyon from the hill above Winkler's Cabin.  
The entire upper Wild Horse Canyon burned except for small patches here and there. From this photograph, it also looks like my experimental plot in Salvia dorrii has burned as well.
 

Winklers Cabin

 

Locations: Winklers Cabin.
Full Size ImageWinkler's Cabin.  

Winklers Cabin is a miner's cabin in the upper reaches of Wild Horse Canyon. Often visited by those "in the know," it had a sign over the door saying, "Leave what you can, take what you need," and a log book inside with writings from many year's visitors.

Locations: Winklers Cabin.
Full Size ImageWinklers Cabin burned to the ground.  

Unfortunately, Winklers Cabin was burned to the ground by the Wild Horse fire of the Hackberry Complex. Phil Woodall, a frequent visitor to the cabin, visited on June 27, 2005, and took this photo.

Full Size ImageEntrance to the Blue Jay Mine, caved following the Hackberry Fire Complex.  
It appears that the shoring around the entrance to the Blue Jay Mine at Winkler's Cabin burned substantially, allowing additional collapse.
 

Between Wild Horse Canyon and Lobo Point -- My Plot in Salvia dorrii

 

Other articles: Transect 5 Introduction
Full Size ImageMy plot at LoboPoint  

In April, 1996, I established a plot along the access road to Lobo Point. This plot was 5 m wide by 50 m long. I identified and measured every plant in the plot.

Full Size ImageWhite 40 in April 1998
Full Size ImagePopulation of F. albomarginata and Salvia dorrii by observation date.  
In April, 1997, I went back and individually staked every Salvia dorrii in the plot. The El Niņo year of 1998 saw the establishment of many seedlings. Many of the seedlings survived until the drought years of 2002-2003, when every seedling perished. I thought this was a significant finding that a population of about 50 plants could generate about 70 seedlings, none of which survived to bloom and set seed.

Full Size ImageSalvia dorriiWhite 38 on May 28, 2005.  
In 2004, being a good year, the few surviving Salvia dorrii bloomed, raising the prospect of seedlings in 2005.

Full Size ImageBefore and after photo (warning, large image: 1.8 MB)
Full Size ImageBefore and after photo.  
Unfortunately, though, the plot burned completely in the Hackberry Complex fire.

Full Size ImageMy plot in Frasera albomarginata after the Hackberry Complex Fire
Full Size ImageThe Hackberry Complex Fire burned quite close to my plot.  
My plots in Frasera albomarginata on the north face of Wild Horse Mesa and the south face of Pinto Mountain were not burned, even though the fire came quite close.

Full Size ImageFormer plot in Salvia dorrii  
The above ground parts of every plant were destroyed by the fire.

Other articles: Field Notes 8-Jun-08 at Transect 5
Full Size ImageLobo Point plot 1 year after fire.  

  This effectively terminates my study of population dynamics in this population of S. dorrii.
  The fire in my previously measured plot does, however, raise some new possibilities. Here are some new questions that I may try to answer by continuing to work in this plot:
 
  • Which plants will resprout from roots or underground stems?
  • Which plants will set new seedlings from seeds left in the soil?
  • How long will it be before some of the non-resprouting shrubs re-appear in the plot?
  So I think my plan will be, assuming agreeement by the Park Service, to study fire response in a desert scrub population.
 

Lobo Point

 
 

Mid Hills Campground

 

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 13090

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCampground entrance after Hackberry Fire Complex  

 

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageEntrance koisk burned by the Hackberry Complex Fire  

The information kiosk at the Mid Hills Campground burned to the ground.

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 14010

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCamp site in the Mid Hills Campground after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

 

Other articles: Wild Horse Canyon Road 14020

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCamp site in the Mid Hills Campground after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

 

Other articles: Field Notes 8-Jun-08 in Mid Hills Campground

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCamp site #25 in Mid Hills Campground 1 year after the Hackberry Complex Fire  

Other articles: Black Canyon Road Near Wild Horse Canyon Road Wild Horse Canyon Road Near Black Canyon Rd.

Locations: Round Valley.
Full Size ImageIntersection of Wild Horse Canyon and Black Canyon Roads after Hackberry Complex Fire.  

This panorama, taken June 27, 2005, after the Hackberry Complex Fire of June 22-25, 2005, shows that much of Round Valley burned as well as a good portion of Pinto Mountain.
 

Plants

 
 

Rare Plants

 
  Mojave National Preserve is a refuge for 103 species of rare plants as described by the State of california in conjunction with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Approximately 38 may have been burned over by the Hackberry Complex. There is limited information regarding the potential effects of the fire to these species. The Burn Area Emergency Response Team has prioritized ten species for focused monitoring with the potential for future treatments based upon assessment information.
 

Response to Fire

 
  Plants that definitely resprout from roots
  Yucca baccata Torrey
  Symphoricarpos longiflorus A. Gray.
  Chamaesyce albomarginata (Torrey & A. Gray) Small.

Other articles: Field Notes 20060607220
Full Size ImageCanyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.) 1 year after the Hackberry Complex Fire.
Full Size ImageCanyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.) resprouting after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.)
  Dalea searlsiae (A. Gray) Barneby.
  Salazaria mexicana Torrey.
  Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray.
  Mirabilis multiflora (Torrey) A. Gray.
  Fraxinus anomala S. Watson.
  Prunus fasciculata (Torrey) A. Gray.
  Keckiella antirrhinoides (Benth.) Straw ssp. microphylla,/i> (A. Gray) N. Holmgren.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-06 near Cedar Canyon
Full Size ImageVerbena gooddingi 1 year after the fire.  

Verbena gooddingii Briq.
  Plants that may resprout depending upon possible damage
  Echinocereus triglochidiatus Engelm.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-07 near Wild Horse Mesa
Full Size ImageEphedra viridis resprouting one year after the fire.  

Other articles: Field Notes 20060607170
Full Size ImageLycium andersonii 1 year after being burned.  

 

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-06 near Pinto Mountain
Full Size ImageLycium cooperi approximately 1 year after a fire.  

Lycium cooperi A. Gray.

I'm pretty sure that this is L. cooperi, but the leaves are very large, much larger than I usually see on this plant. Perhaps the size of the leaves is related to the plant having been burned.


Full Size ImageBeavertail (Opunita basilaris) sprouting after a fire.  
Opuntia basilaris Engelm. & J. Bigelow.

Full Size ImagePancake Cactus (Opuntia chlorotica) resprouting after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  
Opuntia chlorotica Engelm. & J. Bigelow.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-06 in Mid Hills Campground,
Full Size ImageDesert Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata glandulosa) resprouting after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

Purshia tridentata (Pursh) DC var. glandulosa (Curran) M. E. Jones.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-06 near Cedar Canyon
Full Size ImageYucca brevifolia resprouting 1 year after the Hackberry Complex fire.  

Yucca brevifolia Engelm.

Other articles: Field Notes 20060608030
Full Size ImageYucca schidigera resprouting one year after Hackberry Complex Fire  

Yucca schidigera K. E. Ortgies.
  Plants that were not observed resprouting:
  Opuntia acanthocarpa Engelm. & J. Bigelow var. coloradensis L. Benson.
  Juniperus osteosperma (Torrey) Little.
  Salvia dorrii (Kellogg) Abrams.
  Pinus monophylla Torrey & Fremont.
  Coleogyne ramosissima Torrey.
 

Recovery From Fire

 

Other articles: Transect 5 20100  

On April 29-30, 1996, I measured a transect near Lobo Point. The purpose was to develop a quantitative understanding of the plant species growing on the bajada north of Lobo Point. Since I measured every perennial plant, it was possible to prepare absolute measures of density and coverage by species. The results are shown in my page: Transect 5 in Blackbrush Scrub Near Lobo Point, Mojave National Preserve, California.
  The transect was burned completely by the Hackberry Complex Fire.
  On June 7-8, 2006, I measured the same transect again. Once again, I measured every perennial plant, skipping over the dried annuals. The resulting statistics are shown below.
 
  Summary Statistics
Column 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Data Absolute
  • Density
  • Absolute
  • Coverage
  • Absolute
  • Frequency
  • Relative
  • Density
  • Relative
  • Coverage
  • Relative
  • Frequency
  • Importance
  • Value
  • Species D C F RD RC RF IV
    Verbena gooddingii Briq. 139 13.993 6 0.641 0.795 0.231 0.555
    Yucca baccata Torrey 19 1.431 5 0.088 0.081 0.192 0.120
    Salazaria mexicana Torrey 38 0.802 2 0.175 0.046 0.077 0.099
    Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray 11 0.228 5 0.051 0.013 0.192 0.085
    Mirabilis multiflora (Torrey) A. Gray 2 0.629 2 0.009 0.036 0.077 0.041
    Yucca schidigera K. E. Ortgies. 3 0.209 1 0.014 0.012 0.038 0.021
    Mirabilis bigelovii A. Gray 1 0.173 1 0.005 0.010 0.038 0.018
    Prunus fasciculata (Torrey) A. Gray 1 0.095 1 0.005 0.005 0.038 0.016
    Eriogonum sp. 1 0.027 1 0.005 0.002 0.038 0.015
    Physalis sp. 1 0.009 1 0.005 0.001 0.038 0.015
    Ephedra viridis S. Watson 1 0.006 1 0.005 0.000 0.038 0.014
    Totals 217 17.602 26 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000
     

    Literature Cited

      A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
      Burn Area Emergency Response Team. 2005. Burned Area Emergency Stabilization Plan: Hackberry Complex. Primm, Nevada: National-Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response Team, July 5, 2005.
    If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  


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    Date and time this article was prepared: 3/21/2017 9:15:55 AM