The 2013 Rim Fire, which charred hundreds of thousands of acres in and around Yosemite, created an opportunity for scientists to study the unique “fire-following” flora that bloom only in burned areas. The post-fire research window is relatively short, as these little-studied plants quickly go dormant and are replaced by other species.

With your support, park botanists surveyed the extent of these ephemeral plants in wilderness and developed areas surrounding Hetch Hetchy and Hodgdon Meadow. During the field season, Yosemite scientists and Student Conservation Association interns surveyed 1,800 acres of recently burned areas and mapped 686 populations of 31 different special-status plant species. This project also included outreach events and materials, including articles and a new website page, to help visitors understand fire’s role as a necessary part of a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem. Results from the surveys were shared with the California Natural Diversity Database, and will help inform decisions about fire management in the park.

Your gifts helped park scientists and the public learn more about how fire affects the park’s natural ecosystems.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park.

Alison Colwell


Project Notes

During the Rim Fire, there was media coverage of the many acres of incinerated conifers, but most of the public may remain unaware of the large fire-dependent segment of Yosemite’s flora. This project will document rare and endemic plants (including pansy monkey flower, slender stemmed monkey flower, Small’s southern clarkia) and create a set of educational products to tell the complex and foundational story of fire in creating the diverse Sierra Nevada flora tapestry.