Highland Springs Ranch - Burn Seeding Project

Applicant: Highland Springs Ranch &123 Farms

Summary: During the summer of 2016, wildfire burned approximately 400 acres of annual grassland consisting primarily of non-native Bromus diandrus in the foothills of Highland Springs Ranch. The area has historically been used for cultivation and possesses little habitat value. However, the burn has provided an opening to perform efficient restoration over a select 10-A test plot through a combination of additional invasive treatment, seed application, and follow-up maintenance, monitoring, and reporting by students in IERCD's SLEWS Program, as well as IERCD and Highland Springs staff.

The California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) has demonstrated that a two year consecutive burn cycle will eliminate 99.9% of Bromus diandrus seed in a given area. A combination of natural invasives control with managed removals and active seeding was projected to restore functions of the 400-A site for the benefit of site soils and area wildlife. The project lasted two years, with the first year consisting of invasive suppression followed by seed broadcasting. Year two consisted of ongoing maintenance and monitoring to control invasive species reintroduction as much as possible. IERCD staff will continue to provide annual monitoring and collect data on native and invasive cover over the 40 test plots.

Outcome: A total of eight acres were seeded using the conservation seeder and an additional two acres were hand seeded by students in the SLEWS Program. Overall the post fire blooms have shown great success both from the seeding restoration and natural recruitment of native seed that already existed in the seed bank.

Partners: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Santa Ana Watershed Association (SAWA), & Highland Springs Ranch.

California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) blooming at Highland Springs