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FLOWERS GET A FIERY FAVOR CREWS SMOKE OUT RIVAL WEEDS AT CALIFORNIA POPPY RESERVE.

Byline: Greg Botonis Staff Writer

LANCASTER - State parks and Los Angeles County fire crews burned off more than 30 acres of nonnative weeds and low brush at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve to make room for next spring's poppies.

Crews used drip torches to touch off fires near 160th Street West and Lancaster Road while other firefighters stood near the fire lines as monitors.

``Basically, what we do here is to burn out the competition for the poppies,'' said Randy Burt, an environmental services intern for the California Parks Department.

``It's been learned that burning helps the native plant community thrive,'' added Robin Kinmont-Gebo, a fire management assistant for the department.

Nonnative plants could choke off the growth of poppies and other native wildflowers. Burning these rivals also leaves leaves ash deposits rich in soil nutrients, parks workers said.

Planning starts more than 12 months in advance for each controlled burn in the 7-year-old program. Planners study precipitation, wind patterns, relative humidity and the moisture of the plants. Ecologists also study the nesting patterns of several species of birds.

The burns must be timed after the birds have moved on, officials said.

``There's a lot of preparation that goes into all these burns,'' Kinmont-Gebo said.

The burn on Tuesday had been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 8 but was postponed because of wind.

Although less than 2 percent of the 1,750-acre reserve was burned, officials say they burned enough to promote increased seed production.

A wet winter would hide evidence of the burn, they said, and the first sprouts of native poppies are likely by January or early February.

The poppy reserve is open from spring until the last blooms die off.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

(color) A state Parks Department worker keeps watch on controlled burning of weeds Tuesday at the California Poppy Reserve in the Antelope Valley.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 22, 2000
Words:314
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