Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

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retired jerry
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by retired jerry » September 16th, 2020, 12:50 pm

good points Charly

along that same line https://www.vox.com/21430638/california ... b705ba7240

fires are worse for a number of reasons

climate change is making it warmer which dries out the forest more which makes it more flammable

forest practice like large clear cuts result in large areas that are all the same and produce big fires. Naturally, the forest is more patchy which results in smaller fires, there are natural "fire breaks"

In California, in 2000 there were more prescribed burns, but we've shifted more towards fire fighting. We need to way increase prescribed burns. Which is difficult to figure out how to do properly.

In San Francisco especially, property prices are prohibitive so people are moving away. But that results in more people living in the forest/urban interface for susceptible to fires. Human habitations should be separated from the forest, made more fire proof. They ought to figure out how to build more housing closer to the city.

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drm
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by drm » September 16th, 2020, 1:04 pm

It is true that there is a lot of resistance among the people who live nearby to prescribed burns, I've read about that especially in eastern Washington. But has anybody proposed prescribed burns in Santiam Canyon? Between Talent and Phoenix? Anywhere on the western slope in Clackamas County?

The wind event we just had was quite exceptional for September, it would be unusual for the winter. I saw that other post about blowdown on the Timberline and am anxious to get out where we can and see how widespread that is. Plenty of areas far from fires may be smoke-free and hikable next weekend and I plan to check some areas out.

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kepPNW
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by kepPNW » September 16th, 2020, 1:07 pm

retired jerry wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 12:30 pm
It's natural to have fires. The trees burn, but then the forest recovers. The forest is more healthy for it.
By whose definition of healthy, though? As I understand it, the "natural design" (if you will) of the forests around here is anticipatory of fires, sure. Have you hiked the Badger Creek trail since the fire there in 2015? To me, that seemed to definitely be one in the "healthy" category. Nurturing, even. No crowning. Just a clearing of the forest floor, returning nutrients to the soil. Perhaps encouraging some seeds to germinate. An elimination of fuels that, if left to build-up long enough, would destroy all life were they to ignite.

Odds are pretty good we'll not see much in that way from these latest firestorms, right? Sure, we're all speculating now. Maybe patches can and will be deemed "healthy" when a full appraisal can be made. But I suspect that, instead, we'll mostly see landscapes more closely resembling the Dollar Lake or B&B burns. Especially in the more alpine areas.
retired jerry wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 12:30 pm
But when a fire comes, people are not able to just say it's natural, just let it burn. There is an overwhelming urge to put out fires. The fires are burning our houses.
No doubt. :( Totally get it, too. And still, I knew that night of the firewind, that were some idiot to ignite the valley I lived in, all priority would simply be to save lives (as it should be), and structures would be an afterthought. We are beyond the point of "caring" about homes in conflagrations such as those we're witnessing now. The system is overwhelmed by what we've done to it.
retired jerry wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 12:30 pm
It's going to be difficult to recover from the overgrown forest condition.

It's not just stupid forest managers that could easily fix this.
No doubt. :(
Karl
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retired jerry
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by retired jerry » September 16th, 2020, 1:23 pm

yeah drm

I have read that on the east side the problem is that fires need to go through regularly to keep undergrowth under control

But not so on the west side. There is not a pattern of regular fires that control under growth. There's so much rain here that there's large undergrowth normally. It's protection is that there's so much rain that it's not as flammable so not big fires. And the forest is more patchy with meadowy areas to prevent crown fires.

It will be a complicated problem to solve with different solutions in different areas

There may be areas that are currently forested that become more meadowy because fires come often enough to prevent large trees from growing.

We may have to abandon some areas that are currently inhabited. Too dangerous

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Charley
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by Charley » September 16th, 2020, 1:52 pm

kepPNW wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 1:07 pm
By whose definition of healthy, though?
An excellent question. It would have to end up being a values judgement, right? Not exactly perfect moral relativism, but somewhere closer to that end of the spectrum than we may be comfortable admitting.

For instance, if human life and community resilience were the primary value, perhaps regular and complete clear-cutting would be the solution. They could clear cut in a patchwork would separate acres of forests of with acres of complete ecological devastation, with strips land doused in Roundup to maintain a perpetual firebreak, to prevent the spread of any fire. Of course, that sounds awful.

On the other hand, if we're hoping for a return to a "natural" equilibrium state, we could simply abandon all of our forest edge communities, strictly prevent human caused ignition (de-power lines all summer, close Forests aggressively, stop all logging during warmer months) and let every lightning caused fire simply burn itself out. That plan also sounds awful, and it would ignore the simple fact that the human caused increase in CO2 has made any "natural" state chemically impossible on this planet. With the very atmosphere of our planet a human-caused experiment, there is no return.

I'm reminded of a recent editorial about Covid (well, Covid and the fires), the central thesis of which is that poor management has left us with only poor choices. In that case, we get angry at each other, because, deep down, admitting that our nation is a failure is just too hard. It's easier to blame the other political party, or those kids who are not wearing masks at the swimming pool.
https://www.vox.com/21432760/coronaviru ... en-america

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kepPNW
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by kepPNW » September 16th, 2020, 5:15 pm

Charley wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 1:52 pm
kepPNW wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 1:07 pm
By whose definition of healthy, though?
An excellent question. It would have to end up being a values judgement, right? Not exactly perfect moral relativism, but somewhere closer to that end of the spectrum than we may be comfortable admitting.
Seems like it, yep. Odds are the Earth might have different ideas than we do, too.
Charley wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 1:52 pm
I'm reminded of a recent editorial about Covid (well, Covid and the fires), the central thesis of which is that poor management has left us with only poor choices. In that case, we get angry at each other, because, deep down, admitting that our nation is a failure is just too hard.
https://www.vox.com/21432760/coronaviru ... en-america
Damn, yeah... No good choices left, for so much that we've done. Seems the "sides" (real people, not partisan hacks) may be shifting into alignments separating those who are now understanding we have failed, and those who still insist we represent "exceptionalism" of some presumably noble sort. One look out the window... :|
Karl
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Greendrake
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by Greendrake » September 16th, 2020, 9:29 pm


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BurnsideBob
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by BurnsideBob » September 17th, 2020, 7:45 am

Greendrake wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Clear cutting isn’t the answer:

https://forestpolicypub.com/2020/09/16/ ... -cascades/
Agree.


In a wind driven fire, fire spreads through fine fuels--grasses, leaves shed by deciduous plants. Even the post harvest field stubble left in grass seed and wheat fields, in case anyone was wondering why the evac orders extended so far out onto the Willamette valley floor.

Unless all vegetation is removed, a supply of fine fuels will grow in one year. What do agencies like the USFS and BLM do after a fire? They broadcast seeds of native plants, primarily grasses, over the fire scar for post fire erosion control.

Because the supply of fine fuels grows so quickly, Australia had its worst fire season yet their summer of 2019/2020 despite extensive fuel modification. The wind pushed fire thru the fuel managed buffer zones into the unmodified areas.

So fuel management has limited value in limiting fires during extreme wind events. Yes, fuel modification thru prescribed burns and mechanical fuel treatments will reduce fire intensity. But fire intensity isn't what drives fire spread in a wind event, the wind does.

Fire needs three things to propagate--fuel, oxygen, and heat. So what can we do to mitigate fires? Fuel, yes, we can manipulate that. Oxygen, no, nothing we can do there. Heat--we can impose restrictions on human activity at times of high fire danger to reduce potential ignition sources. So two avenues of approach.

But when Mother Nature dishes out a foehn wind event, the effectiveness of fuel manipulation breaks down.

Which leaves restriction of human activity as our only effective strategy during extreme wind events.


Respectfully, your ex wildland fire-fighter,

BurnsideBob
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retired jerry
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by retired jerry » September 17th, 2020, 8:09 am

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/geo422/ ... oadley.pdf

In the Tillamook Burn - 1918 to 1945 - the same area burned multiple times

West of the Cascades, the problem will not be fixed by clear cuts or prescribed burns. When it's hot, dry, windy, if a fire starts it will go out of control.

Global warming - it's a little hotter so things will get worse.

East of the Cascades, prescribed burns will reduce fire risk.

A lot of interesting things in that article, like how they broadcast seeds for replanting. But before that, they broadcast poison to kill mammals so they wouldn't eat the seeds, and they broadcast herbicide to reduce competition.

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retired jerry
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Re: Leaders Failing to Prevent/Mitigate Fires

Post by retired jerry » September 17th, 2020, 8:10 am

being an ex wildland fire fighter, this all must be interesting to see

those fire fighters are amazing, thank you all

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