7 Sep 2008, 8:44am
Federal forest policy The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Two More Fires Blow Up in Oregon

Two fires in the Oregon Cascades have blown up and are consuming old-growth spotted owl habitat as they rage uncontrolled across watersheds.

As we predicted [here], the Middlefork Fire (one of the Lonesome Complex in the Sky Lakes Wilderness south of Crater Lake near Halifax Creek) has expanded vigorously. Yesterday the fire jumped the Middle Fork of the Rogue River.

The Middlefork Fire has been burning since Aug 18, but no efforts have been made to contain, control, or extinguish the fire. Instead, Rogue River-Siskiyou NF Supervisor Scott Conroy ordered his Type 3 local team to stand away and burn baby burn. The only actions taken have been to expand the fire by arsonistic ignitions of backburns on the west side.

The Sky Lakes area is an important historical/cultural area used by First Resident Native Americans from dozens of tribes for thousands of years. Ancient trails pass through tended huckleberry and beargrass fields. It is one of the most valuable anthropological sites in Oregon. It is also home to ancient trees and spotted owl nesting stands.

Now all that is to be incinerated by mad firebug and useless jerk Scott Conroy, who ought to be arrested immediately for arson and treason.

Conroy proposed to add WFU to the RR-SNF Fire Plan last March and issued a call for comments. W.I.S.E. responded with a 170 page in-depth discussion of the illegality and demerits of WFU [here]. Conroy crawled under a rock and went mum. We have no way of knowing whether he adopted WFU or not. Last June we sent him a Freedom of Information Act request for his Fire Plan, but Conroy refused to provide it (as required by law). Evidently Conroy thinks he can break any and all laws of the USA with impunity and incinerate priceless heritage forests like a madman.

As the Middlefork Fire is blowing up, so is the nearby Rattle Fire. The Rattle Fire has exploded out of the Boulder Creek mini-Wilderness and spotted across Highway 138. The highway is now closed between MP 47 and MP 59. Pacific Corp powerlines have been de-energized.

The Rattle Fire has also been burning since Aug 18. The early desires of the Umpqua NF were to incinerate the entire wilderness area, but instead the Northwest Oregon IMT (IC Carl West) was called in. The NW OR IMT (West) has experience with wilderness fires and knows how to contain them. They contained the Blueridge Fire last year on Mt. Hood, and the Gnarl Fire this year, also on Mt. Hood.

The NW OR IMT (West) subdued the Rattle Fire at 945 acres with helicopter bucket work, but was ordered off the fire for doing exactly that. Clifford J. Dils, Forest Supervisor of the Umpqua NF desires holocaust, not fire containment. As soon as the NW OR IMT (West) left the scene and the Umpqua Type 3 Team took over, the fire started growing in leaps and bounds.

The Rattle Fire has doubled in size to about 1,900 acres, departed the mini-wilderness, and is headed unchecked toward Toketee Falls. The Type 3 Team Team (Lunde) was in place for one day and has now been replaced with the Southern Oregon/Northern California Type 2 Team (Paul).

West’s Type 1 IMT will not be coming back to the Rattle Fire. They want no part of destroying Oregon forests. And since they wouldn’t do the dirty deed, they were ordered off. ORCA (as the Southern Oregon/Northern California Team is called) has no problem with it. They just came off the Siskiyou/Blue2 Complex on the Klamath NF, an 80,000 acre megafire that has been burning (and continues to burn) all summer long.

ORCA does that burn baby burn thing. They are just the kind of non-firefighting team that Cliff Dils desires for his forest incineration program.

Holocaust in the old-growth is the USFS way these days. According to the BINGOs that command and control that agency, the only good forest is a dead, burnt, “recycled” forest that has been converted to “northern chaparral” aka tickbrush.

That is why Congress was enticed into declaring ancient, human-modified and  occupied landscapes to be “wilderness.” The vicinities of the Middlefork and Rattle Fire are not remote or “untrammeled by man”. Indeed, the Middle Fork Fire is now less than 2 miles from the Pacific Crest Trail and headed that way unchecked. Six miles east of that the fire will hit the Upper Klamath Valley and the farms west of Fort Klamath. Eight miles is nothing to a fire that travels 2 to 5 miles an hour.  Northwest winds of 10 to 15 mph and gusting to 25 mph are expected today.

Major disaster is underway.  No effort is being made to avert it. In fact, major disaster is the goal and mission of the modern USFS.

One wonders why eco-arsonists ever got into forestry in the first place, since they hate forests with such passion and seek their destruction. And wouldn’t it be better if we inflicted them on our enemies instead of on ourselves? I mean, couldn’t we send Dils, Conroy, Paul et al. to Iraq or Afghanistan where they could incinerate those countries, rather than keeping them here and in destructive charge of our priceless heritage forests?

Rattle Fire perimeter 09/07. The base map was extracted from InciWeb. The green area is the Boulder Creek Wilderness. The brown area is the Rattle Fire as of 3 days ago at 968 acres. The red line is a rough perimeter drawn today using Google Earth Fire maps based on 12-hour old MODIS satellite sensing of hot spots. As can be measured by rough proportion, the Rattle Fire is now over 3,000 acres.

7 Sep 2008, 10:04am
by Mike

This disaster was predictable, and was predicted by W.I.S.E. in a letter we wrote to the County Commissioners of five SW Oregon and NW Calif counties last April. Not one of those commissioners had the decency to acknowledge receipt, much less express a concern. They could have taken some action but chose instead to bury their heads in the sand.

Now their counties are experiencing megafire (and some have suffered megafire all summer long). Obviously a letter was not enough to capture their interest or attention. Perhaps wholesale forest holocaust will do that, but then again, it might not. Please call your county commissioners and ask them why they are asleep at the wheel.

8 Sep 2008, 8:12am
by Mike

Rattle Fire update Monday morning:

Situation as of 09/07/2023 at 5:00 PM
Personnel: 372
Size: 1,982 acres
Percent contained: 5%

Costs to Date: no update, est. ~$4,200,000

State Highway 138 is closed from MP 45 to 59. Notification level is currently at 2 in preparation for potential evacuation of structures in the incident area.

Fire burning within and outside of the wilderness. Crews are focusing on spot fires south of the highway and protection of Pacific Corp powerlines and facilities in the area. Additional equipment and crews are being ordered to help in the suppression efforts.

Spring Fire (1996) area has numerous dead snags, thick brush. Fire spread from snag torching and spotting, easterly winds, low humidities. Forecast is for north winds 5 to 15 mph, gusts to 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon.

8 Sep 2008, 8:13am
by Mike

Middlefork Fire update Monday morning:

Situation as of 09/07/2023 5:00 PM
Personnel: 62
Size: 1,280 acres
Percent contained: 40%

Costs to Date: not update, est. $3.5 million

Estimate date of containment on 10/1.

Middlefork Fire has crossed the Middle Fork of the Rogue and is headed E toward the Crippled Horse Spring and PC Trail. Old-growth forest, multiple value resource complex is burning. No containment effort. Let It Burn fire.

8 Sep 2008, 9:31am
by bear bait

All this smoke and resource removal by rapid oxidation is not a blip on our Oregon Governor’s radar. His only interest, in the name of air quality and health, is to stop field burning in Oregon by 2011. Yep. Smoke from California WFUs blew into Eugene during the Olympic Track and Field Trials, generating a mass of field burning complaint calls on the DEQ complaint line. So Eugene ambulance chasers and our Goody Green Governor, supported by trial lawyers and mandatory public employee union dues, is joining them in campaigning for the end to field burning.

Field burns consume 3 tons of fuel per acre; forest fires consume 30 to 100 tons per acre. Less than 50,000 acres of fields are burned annually, mostly to instigate reproduction in native grasses modified for domestic use. Last year 750,000 forest acres in Oregon were burned.

No fire, and you get no more native grass seed in the market place. Tough deal for the farmer.

Forest fires consume from 10 to 50 times more organic material per acre, and when the fire vortex is at full force, inches of topsoil go up with the plume. Watersheds and fish habitat are destroyed for generations, as the Salmon River and tributaries in Idaho suffered in the spring freshet and summer thundershowers, and will again next year and the next and the next.

Not withstanding the resource losses, how in the hell can the field burning be a huge health risk and the WFU fires not? Oh, I get it. WFU has never been through any sort of NEPA examination. No public inputs. No cross examination, no papers in disagreement. Just burn by fiat from a committee on high, staffed by appointed like minded bureaucrats and their NGO friends. No dissent allowed.

So Oregon’s Governor is shamelessly touting a position that is without defense in the larger context, as lawyers are wont to do. Meanwhile, the trees, the owl nesting sites, the security habitat, the very soil itself, all goes to sky to be distributed across the globe in a “benign” manner that is natural.

But the field burning is a man-made assault on human health? In a pig’s ass!!!

Science is gone from public land management. Politics of the favored, the Left, the poll-taxed public employees, whatever the NGOs demand or claim, is what forest management is all about. We have lost our government to idiots, and they have taken our forests and burned them rather than defended them, used them, husbanded them, or conserved them.

I hope that those who worked for the “Outfit” long ago, when this nonsense was not practiced, will contact Congressmen and women to tell them this is wrong, wrong-headed, and now criminal, and against all that Teddy Roosevelt (another VP hero that ended up POTUS) and Gifford Pinchot worked for to protect and preserve our commons.

Those that do such things, deliberately putting all resources in harm’s way, wear their coats inside-out (turncoats and traitors).

9 Sep 2008, 9:51am
by pril

There has been no mention in the local paper about the Middlefork fire, even though it’s pretty much right in the backyard of KF. This morning the air was yellow and big streaks of brown across the sky. Still a plume of smoke rising into nearly an anvil in the southeast, too.

15 Oct 2008, 5:25pm
by Hannah


15 Oct 2008, 7:36pm
by Mike


While I appreciate your sentiment, and would never question expressions of affection, more detailed addressing of the issue at play would be nice. The issue is NOT Cliff but the burning of forests. Let us not digress into personalities but concentrate on policies and practices.

30 Nov 2008, 11:56am
by Hannah

Well, if the issue is the burning of forests then why specifically name the workers who in fact ARE trying to stop this fire? you are attacking the issue, i will give you that, but you are also attacking those that try their best everyday to keep the fires down.

So, while i appreciate your opinion, mike, and would never question expressions of affection, more details of the fire and less of the people involved in this issue at play would be nice.

With love, Hannah.

30 Nov 2008, 3:04pm
by Mike

Dear Hannah,

The issue is the DELIBERATE burning of forests, as ordered by the USFS leadership. Those leaders who make the decisions to incinerate vast tracts of public forests, without public review of those (pre) decisions, are fair game for severe criticism.

Let It Burn policies perpetrated by named forest supervisors, regional foresters, the USFS Chief, and the members of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council have led to record destruction and record costs and damages over the last eight fire seasons. I am tired of that. I resent the useless and deliberate destruction of my forests. Those responsible should and are being held accountable by me.

I have made significant effort to report the details of these two fires and hundreds of fires over the last two years. I have complimented meritorious conduct when it was due. And when the conduct is less than meritorious, I have pointed that out also.

But I am not merely a reporter of fires nor a cheerleader for firefighters. I am a forester and advocate good stewardship of forests. When terrible decisions are made that lead to the destruction of heritage forests, that destroy habitat, that foul waterways, that pollute airsheds, that threaten public health and safety, that cause tremendous losses to public and private resources, and that are made in back rooms without public involvement or transparency, then I am pointing out by name those responsible.

If that causes some grief, so be it. The grief inflicted by those bad decisions is far in excess of any I engender.

Let us hope that public criticism does hurt, and that the individuals to blame for destroying our forests pay heed because of it and change their approach from abandonment to holocaust to good stewardship.



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