I was out in the Carr Fire burn area today. It’s quite devastating to see the thousands of burned acres of forest. This fire destroyed over 1600 structures, but it also killed millions of trees. We are faced with an epic fire salvage operation that will take years to complete. That will be followed by an equally epic reforestation program
With all the fires burning in California there has been a lot of discussion about logging to reduce forest fuel. Doing so makes our forests more fire resilient. There is fear among many people that logging of any kind will destroy our forest. The truth is the the fires are destroying our forests. This is a short video of such a logging operation from last year on the Lassen National Forest. The Forest Service prepared this project. Our company bought and logged the timber sale. The result is a healthier more resilient forest.
The Pacific fisher is a large member of the weasel family that makes its home on our California timberland.
The company I work for, Sierra Pacific Industries, has been involved in a fisher relocation project for a number of years. Our partners in the project include US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and researchers from North Carolina State University. The purpose is to re-establish fisher into parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that used to be their historic range. The project has been highly successful. You can read more about the project here at the Fish and Wildlife Service website.
This is a mixed media illustration of a fisher with a radio collar that I did for the children’s book Timber!. The pen and ink version appeared in the young reader book Timber In The Working Forest. Both books were written by Mary A Livingston and illustrated by me. You can read her blog at Sneaking Bliss.com.
Bliss and I were out marking trees a few weeks ago when we came upon several wood rats nests. They build these large stick pile akin to a beaver lodge on land. They are very industrious creatures. They are also an important prey species for forest predators.
Bliss was very impressed with this massive collection of sticks. So impressed that she claimed it for herself. Sadly for her it wasn’t going to fit in my vest and she could only carry one stick at a time.
This clever rat built its nest in the trees. No sticks for Bliss from this one.
Bliss found a deer skull under the nest. “No Bliss it’s not a rat skull and no you can’t eat it!”
I found this to be an interesting story on plans to reestablish forests in Northern Britain. It’s a noble goal to be sure. The goal is to plant 62,000 acres back to forest with 50,000,000 trees. The cost is expected to be $690 million. That’s where I start to cringe.
When comparing projects done in California by private timber companies doing wildfire restoration I think it could be done better in Britain. We would use about 20,000,000 trees to do the same size area. With soil site preparation, tree planting and initial herbicide treatment to control the weeds for a year or two, our reforestation cost would be about $25,000,000 for 62,000 acres. Now, if they were to plant the trees in Britain at a 12’x12’ spacing like we would here, they could cover 165,000 acres. Our costs here would be approximately $65,000,000. Plus, planting the trees as close together as they propose, about 7’x7’ will require the trees be thinned within a few short years at substantial expense. Otherwise, the trees become overly crowded and stressed.
This doesn’t sound like forestry, because it really has a price tag for landscaping. I believe it’s a worthy project, but can be done better. I realize our infrastructure for these types of projects is different and cheaper, but that is still a huge cost difference. I also know that many American foresters outside of California are thinking my cost estimates are too high. That’s California. My suggestion is to draft some good Canadian reforestation foresters to come over and lend a hand.
I was in the Trinities this week and there was thick smoke everywhere. It’s burning season in Northern California. We had quite a lot of rain in late November. I assumed that some agency was doing a large burn project. However, I couldn’t see where the smoke was coming from. It appeared to be drift smoke.
During my drive down from the mountains I heard a news report. They reported that smoke from the Thomas Fire was drifting up the coast. I checked Google Earth that evening and the smoke had drifted nearly 500 miles from the Thomas Fire in Southern California to north of Redding. The residue of so many homes and so much wildland was adrift in this smoke.