Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting Burned at Willis Palms

Almost everyone I know is a flake.  Saturday morning I was planning to met some people from work and take a hike out to Ladder Canyon.  It's a fun little hike that's very good for beginners.  Everyone I've taken out there is absolutely amazed by the geology and that a place like that exists so nearby.  It's great fun for me to take someone new.  There was only one problem: no one showed up.  No one even called.  Oh well, their loss.

Instead of going to Ladder Canyon, I decided to drive over to the Coachella Valley Preserve and check on a Palm Oasis fire that they had a couple weeks ago.  None of the news reports was very specific about the location of the fire.  I guess none of the reporters are familiar with the area or bothered to ask any questions.  Pretty typical with the Desert Sun.  I was very disappointed by what I found.

Before I got to the Preserve I had hoped it was not one of the major oases that has burned.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Eighty percent of the Willis Palms Oasis is now destroyed.

The eastern portion of the palms are still intact and there are some mesquite remaining but everything else it toast.

Little life remains.

Beneath the burnt exterior, though, most of these palms have a chance to recover.

Burnt trees

The Black Rainbow

Will they recover?

As long as the crown of the palm retains life there is a great chance most of these trees will come back.  If you go to a lot of oases around the desert you will find a large percentage have burnt trunks.  The only part of the palm that is actually living is the crown.  As long as it is OK the palm will come back.

There's hope here.  Just a couple weeks after a huge fire destroyed the majority of this significant grove, new life appears from beneath the ashes.  I'll be back to check on the progress of the regrowth here. I just won't count on anyone else showing up when I do.


  1. It wasn't just The Desert Sun that was reporting the wrong location for the fire. Some of the local TV stations kept broadcasting a map showing the fire location at the intersection of Dillon and 1000 Palms Canyon road.

  2. Hal, I hiked out there about the same weekend you did! Yes, the local news (even the TV stations) got the location ALL WRONG, but I could see the palms from the road and knew where they were. I have friends who board their horses out in Thousand Palms and apparently some of them had ridden by these palms. So sad to see! But, with all our rain the last week, they SHOULD grow back, right?
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~