9 Jan 2009, 5:35pm
Latest Fire News Latest Forest News
by admin

Fire, climate and thinning

Sierra Summit: Conversations and observations about California’s mountains — Tom Knudson’s Blog, Scaramento Bee [here]

January 8, 2009

My recent article about the Moonlight Fire in Plumas County - and how scientists now believe climate change is helping to spark more destructive wildfires - drew a number of responses about the value of thinning over-crowded stands before a fire starts. You might think of it as preventative medicine - and while controversial among some environmentalists - it has been shown to reduce the damage caused by today’s increasingly severe fires.

From Chester, Jay Francis, forest manager at the Collins Pine Company - wrote to say that the same day the Moonlight Fire began (Sept. 3, 2007), another fire started on his company’s property about 15 miles to the west. “Officials estimated it had been burning for about 10 hours (overnight) when they first arrived on scene yet they were able to catch it with just 1 engine and a water tender,” Jay wrote in an email. “Human caused, probably a cigarette, but probably not intentional. The big difference is that our fire was in an area that had been biomass thinned about 12 years ago and then logged again (for the 4th time) about 3 years ago. Quite a contrast.”

Jay attached a photo of the Collins Pine fire, shown immediately below. A few smaller trees have obviously been killed, but many more bigger ones survived. Now compare that with a different photo - one at the bottom of this blog. That picture, which I took this fall, shows an over-crowded mixed conifer stand in the Plumas National Forest north of Indian Valley that not been thinned and was severely burned by the Moonlight fire. Not much living remains. … [more]

and a blog comment, by oldforester:

As a ‘65 Cal graduate forester and retired U.S. Forest Service District Ranger from the Lassen National Forest with 33 years of forest fire fighting experience, I can state without reservation that restoration forestry, including forest thinning, is the only way that we can maintain our vast and beautiful forests. They must be returned to conditions similar to what the pioneers encountered over 100 years ago: fewer conifer trees per acre with sunlight feeding the wealth of plants which provided food and cover for a greater variety of animal life than we now find. The only way to return to these conditions is through sound forest management practices. Forest fuel loadings must be reduced or we will see more fires with greater devastation to watersheds, wildlife habitat and people. Those truly interested in a healthy forest ecosystem and carbon sequestration, realize that we must tend the garden as the Lord ordered Adam those thousands of years ago. The native peoples did it, now it is [our responsibility].

9 Jan 2009, 7:00pm
by John M.

The “Old Forester” sums the situation up about as well as can be done. The problem is those who advocate no management continue to sing a song rooted in the belief that if only people didn’t need to drink water, eat food and otherwise support themselves, the forests would just be perfect. But we are here, and do need to care for ourselves and our families. May those who wish no use of the forests lead the way to another part of the Earth where our needs can met without changing anything.



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