Forestry Friday … Burn Baby Burn!

There’s fire in the woods again!

slash, logging, forestry, burning, controlled burning, prescribed burning, fuel reduction

Burning slash in a logging unit. A forester favorite Fall pastime.

Not like the Summer wildfires this time. This burning is for fuel reduction after logging. It’s part of our Fall preparation for tree planting. We prefer chipping slash and hauling it to the co-generation plant where it can be turned into electricity. In some areas that option isn’t available so we have to burn the slash on site. Getting rid of the slash reduces the fuel load for future wildfires that may occur. It also releases nutrients into the soil in the form of ash. Those nutrients give a boost to the young seedlings that will be planted at the site in the Spring.

broadcast burn, forestry, burn piles

On flat ground the slash is often piled for burning. In this unit the entire site is burned, which is called a broadcast burn.

We aren’t trying to get rid of all debris within units, but we want to reduce it to a reasonable level. A certain amount of slash and debris left unburned acts as impediments to erosion. Over time it breaks down adding organic material back into the soils. However, too much debris creates a fuel load that will support an aggressive wildfire.

inversion, smoke, prescribed fire, burning operation, forestry

This smoke column rises over Trinity Lake and has reached an inversion layer causing the smoke to flatten out.

Burning is only allowed on specific days when weather conditions are right. We avoid conditions that are too dry in which fire can escape. We also have to be aware of what direction the smoke is being carried on the wind to avoid smoking out populated areas. In California we’re required to prepare smoke management plans to determine what conditions are appropriate for burning as to not create a smoke hazard for local areas.

golden retriever

I had a companion on this day. Tessa, our friend’s dog, got to be a forester’s dog for a day.

Fall is traditionally incredibly busy around here and this season has been no different. Things are starting to wind down so hopefully there will more time for posting.


31 thoughts on “Forestry Friday … Burn Baby Burn!

  1. I have heard the term Slash and Burn and knew what it meant. But I had never heard of slash as the woody debris. I looked up slash and found some more meanings for it. 😦 There is even a musician called Slash. I love the Internet but sometimes it just gives me too mucho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slash is a bit of a loaded word isn’t it. For a forester it is simply the leaves, needles, branches and cull logs left from the harvesting activities.
      Most folks are familiar slash and burn agriculture as practiced in the Amazon rainforest. Farmers would cut down everything in an area of the forest and burn it. None of the wood was used for lumber. The sole purpose was to create an opening in the forest so they could subsistance farm it. Once the soils were depleted of nutrients, they would pack up and move on to the next patch of forest. No replanting was done to re-establish the forest. It is not a forestry practice at all and carries a very negative connotation. The issue of slash and burn agriculture is far more a cultural and economic issue that became an ecological problem. That being said I believe a lot of progress has been made to improve the situation. That was probably too mucho information!
      BTW, I haven’t run into any rock n rollers out in the woods yet, but if I do I will definitely take a picture!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Anna. That is very kind to say.
      The smoke in the inversion was quite striking indeed. Incidently, we try not to burn into an inversion layer because it can trap the smoke in the valleys where people are living. Fortunately, the inversion in the picture was at a higher altitude.


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