We learned from previous blogs that seeding with CA Native Grasses will be beneficial for erosion control and long-term soil stabilization (the roots are extremely fiberous and long), and native grasses will help ” set the stage” for a more natural succession of native species and vegetation that will become less “fire prone” in the future.

The information here will describe some seed mixes and seeding rates, specific for the areas in western Shasta County.


Here are some seed mixes developed by myself and Pacific Coast Seed, Livermore, CA – my “go to” seed specialists and materials provided.

Here is the seed mixes developed by CalTrans for the 299W Highway corridor

You will notice that the total rates are different.  My seed recommendation is about 30#/ac and the Caltrans rates are about 50#/ac.  The reason is two-fold.  My rates are going to be applied by hand-broadcasting, similar to the video.  The CT rates will be applied with a hydroseeding/hydromulching machine.  A general rule is that adding/applying seed with a hydromulcher requires more seed – just a general rule, many other factors come into play, e.g. the ability to protect the seed from bird predation by mulch and if the seed can be applied with close contact with the soils (sometimes Hydromulch is applied in two stages, the first with seed and little hydromulch to ensure good soil contact followed by the rest of the specified mulch for Erosion Control cover).

I will present more on Hydroseeding and Hydromulching (really one in the same thing) in the near future.

But note that once the seed in down it really must be covered with MULCH.  The seed mix above that I am using for hand application will be followed by Straw Mulching.

The straw mulch I have chosen is rice straw (see previous Straw Talk video) and we will apply is at about 1.5 T /ac which relates to about 1 bale per 1000sf.Straw bales generally weigh between 70-90#/bale.  Therefore a burned area of 6000sf would require approximately 6 bales. The straw shall be spread uniformly over the ‘disturbed soil areas’ such that 70%-90% of the soil is covered with an average of 1″-2″ thick straw.  For small area rehabilitation on up to 2:1 steep slopes I seldom apply tackifier – the first rains will “lay the straw down” and prevent it from blowing away – general rule!

The Clip below was excerpted from Dirt Time videos made during a hands-on training workshop up in the Canadian Rockies back in 2006.

This workshop was sponsored by the Alberta Transportaion who wanted to “get the word out” about NCHRP Report 544 – Environmentally-Sensitive Channel and Bank Protection Methods , aka, Alternatives to Riprap.
We (Dirt Time) ended up implementing and filming several more workshops (projects) throughout the Provence.  See Hinton and Willow Creek

Many more of these Dirt Time Bioengineering and BMP video clips (5-10 minute long) will be available for you to watch, take a test, and get Continieing Edcation Units (CEUs).

See www.dirttime.tv for similar courses in near future.  The video clips are also avaiable at the Watch Your Dirt Store.com in the “Dirt Time BMP and BIOENGINEERING Complete Works” for $299

Also see Forester University for Dirt Time Courses –  https://www.foresteruniversity.com/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=2065

The devastation from the Carr Fire in west Redding was severe, especially in the areas around Old Shasta, Keswick and Rock Creek Road.  The severity of the fire can be correlated with the amount and type of fuel, e.g., species and density of trees and brush.  The area that burned the hottest were often dominated by Knobcone Pine and Manzanita sp.

Lets talk about Knobcone pine for a bit.  This pine is a fire dependant species meaning the cones require fire to germinate, and when they get fire, well sprout they do.  I recall studies done over 20 years ago, when we were working in Middle Creek Watershed on erosion control and fire prevention.  The studies indicated that, historically, the natural wildfire fire intervals in the region was averaging about every 10-15 years. Because of development in the urban interface and modern fire suppression efforts the last big wildfire was over 30 years ago. Meaning the fire was severe because of fire suppression!  Also meaning many of the dense stands of knobcone pines occur today because of a wildfire 20-40 years ago, which aided the germination of the cones, ergo the stands of Knobcone Pine that promoted the recent conflagaration were born in the last wildfire.  Foresters know one can count the whorls of limbs on conifers to roughly determine the trees age, each whorl is one year.

This is a knob cone pine. Counting all the whorls indicate about 35-40 years old, The cones are now ready to start a new fire cycle !!

The Knobcone pines on the ridge in back show the “even age” nature. The unburned pines in closer are probably Ponderosa Pines.

Many ecologists believe that by planting properly selected (by mimicing the indiginous system) California native grasses (pioneering species) we can “set the stage” for establishing a more natural successional process – grasses succeded by shrubs, followed by oaks and conifers.  The ‘do nothing approach’ will likely result in more of the same, Knobcone pines and manzanita. Wherby CA Native grasses, given a leg up (advantage) by adding mycorrhizae fungi and biotic fertilizers, is likely to result in a more natural and less fire prone landscape.  Remember also that this landscape has not been “natural” for some time.  Anthropogenic (human-caused) land uses, like the smelters at the turn of the century, severely altered the land and denuded the Ponderosa Pine forests that predominated the region historically.  Maybe now, after the Carr Fire disaster, we can turn the tables and set the stage for natural succession.  We will need to do erosion control anyway, especially in many locations where infrastructure and dwellings will be threatened by potentially severe erosion.  So why not select and apply Best Management Practices (BMPs) that include Native Grasses, mycorrhizae fungi, and Slow-release, biotic fertilizers?

This is in fact what Caltrans is doing along the 299W highway corridor.  I will be sharing the seed mixes and mulches and amendment specifications that are currently the best state-of-the-art.  Coming soon!


Some of the post-fire remediation may include seeding and mulching the bare soil.  By consulting your natural resource or Erosion Control Specialist you can determine the extent and range of treatments necessary, and an experienced professional can help you evaluate the risks.


But generally, if seeding is recommended, in the urban / wild land transition area you will want to look at re-seeding with a “native seed mix”.  This is so important from an ecosystem point of view.  Grasses native and endemic to your area will develop deep roots, set the stage for “natural succession” of other native shrubs and trees, be drought tolerant (they are California natives after all ) and reduce risks of developing an even more fire prone landscape.  Try to avoid the temptation of using quick n’ cheap erosion control blend of seeds that are non-native annuals, like Italian rye grass.  In three or 4 years you’ll probably end up with a nice stand of weeds, burrs, and star thistle.
Also consider adding mychorrizae fungi and a biotic organic fertilizer.  Consider AM-120 Mycorrhizal Inoculum and Biosol or Sustaneorganic fertilizers.  Most California Native grasses, especially in our North state area, have a symbiotic relationship with mychorrizae fungi.   CA ‘natives’ don’t need commercial fertilizers with high water soluble N, however weeds and annuals love commercial fertilizer – so feed the good seeds, not the weedy annuals!
Seeding and then mulching with straw is the most common means to “protect” smaller areas, say <0.5 acres.  Straw Mulch should be “clean” and weed-free. On construction site, especially highway projects, the straw should be anchored so it doesn’t blow away.  Anchoring is not that critical on restoration or fire rehab sites – the first rains will “lay the straw down”.
Hydromulch and hydroseeding, that slurry you often see spread by a big mulching truck, is another way to go.  It will be much more cost-effective for large areas and much quicker – with good access and available water (to make a new mix) an experienced Hydromulching professional can treat 2-5 acres a day.  While Straw Mulch is the most common hand-applied mulch, hydromulchers use mulch derived from wood fiber.  Wood fiber mulches can be the “Mercedes Benz” of mulches, long lasting and very effective.  Profile Products make a reputable line of products.  There is a relatively new hydraulically applied mulch made from sterile wheatgrass, called Hydrostraw.  Then the seed and fungi and fertilizer can be added to the slurry.



There is so so much to know with regards to proper erosion control.  It is so much more than “Common Sense”.  A practitioner friend often says, “ erosion control is not brain surgery or rocket science – it is much more difficult!

Stay tuned for a few videos on this subject coming here soon!
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