This fire season in California has been epic in the worst possible way. Not only did we have the state’s largest recorded wildfire, the Ranch Fire, but we’ve had the most destructive fire, the Camp Fire. During any prior year the Carr fire would have been the most destructive fire in California, but this year has been exceptionally bad for wildfires.
I was out checking in on one of our salvage logging contractors on the Carr Fire last week. The timber salvage operations are well under way. Click on the gallery of images to read about it.
This view is from the Highland Ridge Road looking down at the Community of French Gulch. Over the course of a couple weeks the fire made a run at the town three separate times. Many homes were destroyed.
The Carr Fire left hundreds of millions of board feet of dead timber in it’s wake.
It’s like a ghost forest.
Bark beetles immediately invaded the fire killed trees. In the spring they will spread the many of the surviving trees.
This is one of many of our salvage loggers. It is imperative to get the wood to the mills as fast as we can. It begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s dead. The tractor is skidding trees to the processor,. The processor cuts the trees into logs, while the loader sorts the logs into decks.
Here the processor manufactures trees into logs.
A couple of big logs waiting to be skidded into the landing.
On steeper ground we use track laying skid cats to move the trees to the landing. The land around Redding that burned is very steep.
The logs get sorted by size and species while waiting to be delivered to the mill.
The trees don’t always burn completely during the fire, but the heat alone is enough to kill them.
This part of the forest had been thinned before the fire. By spacing out the remaining trees the fire burned at a lower intensity. The fire wasn’t as hot, the flames were smaller, and the remaining trees were resilient enough to survive the fire. Thinning these trees in a logging operation saved them.
Even now, weeks after the fire was contained there are still hot spots out in the burn. We may still find some hot spots in the spring.
Since I wrote this post the rains began in earnest. Our fire season has come to brutal end.
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.
I got a dotspen several weeks ago. I did this drawing back then just for fun and to get a feel for the pen. This is the perfect implement for an impatient stippler like me. It has two speeds slow and fast. I only use fast. In fact I wish it had a setting called faster!
While looking at a timber sale last week with a fellow forester, we walked past this big northern Pacific rattlesnake. His dog walked within inches in front of the rattlesnake and it buzzed like crazy. The dog didn’t react to the snake at all. That’s probably why the snake didn’t strike the dog. I took the picture and video with my cell phone so it’s not the greatest quality. Be careful if you hear this sound.
Pacific fisher in pen and ink. Mary and I had a chance meeting with a pair of fishers. That’s when I took the photo that this picture was based on. We watched this fisher as it climbed up and down a Douglas-fir tree while it was hunting.
The Pacific fisher is a large member of the weasel family that makes its home on our California timberland.
This was a different Pacific fisher that unknowingly visited us. Observing wildlife from a hidden hunting blind is a great way to watch animals in their natural state.
The fisher investigates our wildlife camera. Come on little fella just a bit farther. Darn, we didn’t get his picture on the wildlife camera.
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.