A normal succession from cottonwoods (and no cedars)…
… to cedars (and no cottonwoods)…
… is not a normal progression. It started with fire, likely to clear agricultural land or a mining claim, less likely as an accident, and even less likely from lightning. These are young trees, as were the burnt ones.
If I’m right in my guess, then the succession is humanly induced, and the progression of species is the land becoming human. That’s how powerful human life is. Here is a forest above Yale, which was burned off illegally in 1858 to make prospecting easier on the slope. That there is no mineral-bearing rock on the slope escaped the observational powers of the miners. Still, it took a long time before trees found root again on this slope, but slowly they managed it, especially in the last few decades. The regrowth seems to be accelerating, as does the invitation for natural fire. In this case, the land is becoming fire.
Which is remarkable, because away from the human-fire disturbance, the land is not particularly burnable.
It is another example of the land becoming human. I think we should be careful. What we do to the land become the gift the land gives back. Succession doesn’t necessarily mean richness, and if the land is not rich, what are we who live from it?
Stories we tell each other? Artificial intelligences?