Regrowth is not all good

It has to be said that fires are not always bad. Naturally occurring fires clear overgrown forests, creating space for some plants and trees to revitalize. Researchers say less-dense forests are more natural and healthy.

But more often in California, wildfires ignite a furious competition for life. Fast-growing and opportunistic non-native plants rush in after fires, with the potential to wholly supplant native species. This phenomenon doesn’t just erase an aspect of California’s botanical history; it affects its fire future. Invasive grasses and weeds often burn more readily, fanning hotter and more frequent fires.