Forum Index > Public Lands Stewardship > Fire Ecologist’s perspective - Methow fire (and east side dry forests, generally)
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jinx'sboy
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PostThu Sep 02, 2021 10:00 pm 
Good, well-written interview - whether or not you agree with all her statements and conclusions.
From the Methow Valley News 9/1 edition.

https://methowvalleynews.com/2021/09/01/local-fire-ecologist-addresses-forest-management-debate/

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treeswarper
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 6:53 am 
A niche business.  Forestry on a small scale.

A bit of forestry

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Sculpin
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 8:13 am 
Good articles, thanks folks.

There are currently two bills being considered in California to support prescribed fire, you can read about them here:

https://the-lookout.org/2021/09/02/important-legislation/

Someone asked on one of the threads, "do prescribed fires ever get out of hand?"  Absolutely they do.  The Candor fire had to flank the 2019 Caples fire to keep progressing, which was a prescribed burn that got out of hand and had to be declared a wildfire.

The 2012 Reading fire in Lassen NP was lightning-caused, but the park chose to let it burn and it proceeded to burn out of the park and destroy stands of privately-owned timber.  The outcome led to Congressional inquiries about the let-it-burn policy.  So how about that terrible Reading fire?  The burned area from the fire has been the only thing that has stopped the northern boundary of the Dixie fire from progressing towards and most likely destroying the historic campground and buildings at Manzanita Lake in Lassen NP.  This after the Dixie jumped something like a dozen dozer lines just on the northern edge of the fire.

The problem with prescribed fire - and let-it-burn as well to a some extent - is liability.  If someone started it, they can be sued for damages.  That is what the California legislation is about.  It is worth pointing out that if Native Americans started a fire on purpose, and that fire caught a big wind and burned over the ridge and took out their rival's village, that is a feature not a bug.  Nowadays the person who started the fire would have their wages garnished for the rest of their life to pay for that village.   eek.gif

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treeswarper
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 9:44 am 
However, just burning is not a complete treatment.  You cannot usually prescribe burn in the midst of winter or summer.  Slash piles are the exception.    That in itself limits acreage that can be treated.  Then the air quality impacts must be calculated--can't have smoke heading west in this state, and wind and fuel moistures have to be just so.  You don't want to cook the soils but you also want to burn up the fines.  That limits time more.

Mechanical thinnings and mastication can be done year round, if snow plowing is feasible.   Even those operations have to shut down when fire danger becomes high.  (Look up Washington State IFPL requirements)
Think in terms of combinations of methods, not just burning.  And yes, you can point out that those operations may raise the fuel load on the ground, but that's for a short time.  There are treatments that  take place after the trees and brush hit the ground.  Think big picture, not just a couple of months.

You'll also see a lot of writing on how fires have slowed down in mechanically treated areas or those areas used as an anchor point for fire line construction.  Flames die down and the fire cools down in a treated/thinned stand of timber and yes, there are exceptions to everything so that isn't 100%.  That humongus fire in Southern Oregon was demonstrating that earlier this year.

People have got to get their heads out of their rears and start listening to experts again.  Sound familiar?

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 10:58 am 
Ann McCreary, writing for the Methow Valley News wrote:
They propose thinning of dense forests in fire-excluded landscapes, prescribed burning, reducing fuels on the ground, and practicing “managed fire,” which means allowing some wildfires to burn in backcountry settings under favorable fuel and weather conditions. They also recommend integrating western science with practices used for thousands of years by Indigenous people, who promoted healthy ecosystems by setting intentional fires.

(* emphasis added *)

So... the "experts" are recommending pretty much what I've been saying here for the last 15 years.

Maybe we should call them "trolls" and "sockpuppets" too, huh?

Or maybe they're only interested in timber industry profits? lol.gif

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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 11:09 am 
and the most salient points raised in the article are in the last two paragraphs:

Ann McCreary, writing for the Methow Valley News wrote:
Prichard and her co-authors describe how more than a century of fire exclusion and past forest management practices have jeopardized forest biodiversity, water quality and quantity, stability of carbon stores, recreation and air quality.

“Adaptive management cannot return landscapes to any historical condition or fire regime, nor is that a particularly useful goal at this point in time,” Prichard wrote. “Instead, intentional management focused on adapting current forest conditions to a rapidly evolving climate future is urgently needed.”

Rather than being of benefit to overall forest health and ecosystem biodiversity, interrupting the natural fire regime cycle over the course of the last century or so has been a detriment.

There is no panacea that will return the forests to some "natural" or "historical" condition. What we have created by our interrupting the natural fire regime cycle, and by putting a stop to the former practice of deliberately starting fires by native Americans is a completely unnatural condition that will take scores of years, if not centuries, to evolve to a state where catastrophic wildfires are not an annual event in the western US.

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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 11:13 am 
... and what the California State Legislature does should by no means be considered an example to be followed. They are as crazy as the Seattle City Council.

Politics has no place in this discussion, nor should it have any bearing on public lands management.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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jinx'sboy
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 12:25 pm 
There isnt going to be a single answer - or maybe even answer(s) that will get us to where we think things out to be.

I think it is this TeD talk (I’ve watched this a couple times, but haven’t just now) where Paul Hessburg - who is one of the researchers referred to in the Methow News article - discusses this.   As I recall, he says something along the lines of “we are not going to thin our way out of this, we are not going to harvest our way out of this and we are not going to burn our way out, with either wildfire or prescribed fire”

A good talk on the basics, too.


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treeswarper
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 1:16 pm 
I think I've watched that.  We can thin and burn our way to slowing fires down a bit, if the wind cooperates.  There are so many variables that affect fire behavior.  Last year's Labor Day storm hopped fire all over the place--here it tore through sagebrush and scattered trees.  I watched it going, or at least the mushroom cloud going, across the river and nothing would stop it until the wind died down.  It burned aspen groves, it burned sagebrush, it burned wheat stubble and it jumped the Columbia.


A year ago...

Now, imagine a bit more powerful wind blowing from the east moving a fire down through a river valley with lots of standing timber.  I find it quite scary to think of.  That's what happened last year in Western Oregon.  I have friends who lost their house and most everything.  They were surprised to find two of their chickens and a cat prowling around the burned remains of their place.  They have no idea how those critters survived and wish they could talk and tell their story.

That fire didn't care about thinned areas as the wind was pushing it hard.  There are pockets of pastures and some houses that survived in the midst of it.

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jinx'sboy
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 1:41 pm 
Yep.  Both the labor Day fires in No Central WA - many of them NOT starting in Forested areas -  and the Western Oregon fires started by the same wind events are a good example of why what wish to do, wont always work.

When wind aligns with terrain and fuel dryness and humidities are very low, then no amount of thinning, burning or harvest is going to be of much use.  All you can do is get out of the way.

To my mind this is why climate change has seriously exacerbated an already bad set of forest conditions.

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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 4:16 pm 
jinx'sboy wrote:
“we are not going to thin our way out of this, we are not going to harvest our way out of this and we are not going to burn our way out, with either wildfire or prescribed fire”

We are definitely in agreement on that point.

jinx'sboy wrote:
"...climate change has seriously exacerbated an already bad set of forest conditions..."

Without question, and with more significant effects in some areas.

No, there is no one solution, and there is no "one size fits all" remedy.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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coldrain108
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PostFri Sep 03, 2021 4:32 pm 
but the real reason this has gotten to this point is $$$$

marketable timber needs to be protected

people's homes in fire country need to be protected

Tourism revenues need to be protected

bad forestry practices 30-40 years ago - maximum extraction for minimum resource input with no regard to forest health.

seems there is truth to that being the root of all evil...basically all of our big issues come back to greed and avarice.

An old hippy sage I knew back in the early 80's said that the destruction of the planet wouldn't be a big flood this time, but a slow burn...this was long before climate change and global warming became catch phrases.

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"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch and do nothing"  - Albert Einstein
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