For decades, forest managers have sought to improve the overall health of San Diego County’s forests and to foster fire resilience by actively managing the landscape. Since the 1930’s, fire suppression has been a leading cause of woody biomass accumulation in our forests. As a result, wildfires that occur today burn much hotter and more intensely than the low intensity, high frequency fire regime of the historical range of variability. The catastrophic wildfires we are currently experiencing are a result of over a century of fire suppression, increased urbanization, and accelerated climate change. Unfortunately, most of San Diego’s mixed coniferous forests have all but disappeared. The last remaining stands are found on Palomar Mountain.
To save San Diego’s last mixed conifer forest, a partnership was formed among five stakeholders: the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, the Pauma Band of Mission Indians, Palomar Land and Cattle Company, USFS Cleveland National Forest, and CalTech (Palomar Observatory). Our group will work collaboratively to actively manage the landscape to promote forest health and create fire resiliency, such that these forests will be protected from catastrophic wildfires. To realize these objectives, each partner will execute restoration work on their respective lands, according to which silviculture methods best suit their objectives. Silviculture is the practice of controlling the growth, composition/structure, and quality of forests to meet the objectives of the landowner. Specific methods of restoration on Palomar Mountain will include mechanical thinning, prescribed fire, fuels reduction, and Goldspotted Oak Borer (GSOB) treatments.