This story appeared on KREM2 in Spokane. I’m heartened to see a support for an active strategy to deal with the wildfire dilemma. In defiance of popular conventional wisdom that harvesting trees is a bad thing. Finally, using harvesting as a tool for healthier forests. It too long overdue in the minds of the public.
The King Fire devastated almost 98,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada, east of Sacramento. Our company lost 18,000 acres of forest. Lately, I’ve had opportunity to spend time in the burn area. There is a lot of work being done by our foresters, biologists, botanists, and others to protect the resources so the timber can be quickly salvaged in an environmentally sensible manner. Most people never get to see what is done to protect the soil, water, cultural resources, and wildlife. In the gallery are images of just some of the work being done.
Hundreds of millions of board feet of timber were killed in the King Fire. Once killed, the wood begins breaking down. It is a race to harvest the trees before their value is lost.
The fire started September 13th. So many organisms died during the fire, but life is beginning to return in sprouts of green.
All foresters are painters of a sort. Give them a can of spray paint and you’ll get instructions for the loggers all over the woods. These instructions are for the placement of rock in a rolling dip. The dip helps drain water from the road and the rock minimizes muddy water running off.
This was a young Ponderosa pine stand of trees lost in the fire.
Blue marks on these trees and blue flagging deliniate a stream protection zone. Even though there is currently no water in this little draw, equipment is restricted from it. This is to minimize soil disturbance next to a waterway.
ELZ means “equipment limitation zone.” These zones are used to keep equipment out of areas to avoid excessive soil disturbance.
Many roads in sensitive areas are rocked. This is done to avoid muddy runoff during the rainy periods.
Roads are rocked coming in and out of stream crossings. Bridges are often upgraded and culvert pipes are up sized to handle greater runoff, which is a common affect following large fires.
Patches of dead trees are left scattered in the burn. These trees provide habitat structure for cavity dwelling wildlife.
Archaeological sites identified in the burn area are protected.
The fire didn’t kill all the trees within the burn. We retain trees that will likely survive the fire damage. High risk trees are removed.
Skidding salvage logs to the landing.
A load of salvage logs roll through the tiny community of Georgetown.
There is a lot of preparation that has to be done prior to logging. It has taken a large team of resource professionals to get the job done on a project this size.
Just for children a picture book about wildfire and the forest rehabilitation that takes place after a fire. Check out, Firestorm In the Forest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The other night Mary and I were awakened to what sounded like gunfire, and a lot of it. I jumped out of bed and flung open the front door. This was the sight that hit us in the face. Our … Continue reading →
While cruising down the road through the burn I came across this chair. It was sitting quietly off to the side of the road in what had previously been a thicket. It was out of place in the middle of the forest. I don’t know for certain how it came to this place. Probably an old hunter left it behind. Someone who used it to sit comfortably for a long time in a place where he or she could watch for unsuspecting deer to cross the road. Why had they left it? Perhaps, it was simply forgotten, no longer useful, or maybe the hunter was successful and in all the excitement forgot to return for the chair. I think it had been here a long time. It sat there waiting for it’s hunter to return for season after disappointing season. This year, as the anticipation of deer season grew closer, something else came. Not the hunter. Instead it was the conflagration. For a few fiery minutes it became The Hot Seat. The fire roared passed leaving exposed the transformed steel skeletal remains of what was once the chair. Quietly, it still sits and waits.