Obstacles to Landscape-Scale Hazard Reduction

Wonder if the FS will try to plan for salvage logging? Nationwide lumber prices are high and now make it profitable.
Seems like Enviromental groups always filing to stop every effort in court. Groups like EPIC want to protect all, but need to stand down!!


has been on the increase lately…we will see and hope for a yes…less dead trees standing equals less hazard trees for ground troops…
went out as a FALB/faller on 2002 Biscuit. We dropped a lot of virgin timber and President Bush authorized the harvesting…however the liberals won in the courts to stop that harvesting and those sticks are still on the ground…at least crews coming into that are will not have to deal with standing dead…safety first…


Learned a valuable lesson on the North West Complex that came from the Camp Fire. The 2001 Storie & 2008 Butte Lightning Complex left a HUGE amount of snags (Standing & Down) everyone could see the standing snags and avoided those areas. The brush had overgrown the down snags & logs & helped to spread the Camp. It was learned that hidden in the 10 & 100hr fuels was a large percentage of down 1000hr fuels
When those were combined with the live fuel load, we all know what we happened. It is also very apparent that the fuel loading is being transformed from a Timber to Brush model just looking/working in the Butte & Store Scars. Those fires were 12 & 19 yr ago respectively and the avg height was in the 8-12’ range. What was also apparent was where the developed roads(SPI, etc) were maintained and the FS roads (Lassen & Plumas) roads were not due to various reasons. If I have learned anything this season, it is the historical balance of fire is so far out of wack, it won’t be corrected in my lifetime. What is the answer? IDK. But it was VERY OBVIOUS what a natural stand of of timber, a plantation stand of timber looked like when maintained on private lands when compared to public lands.


Multiple Northern California forest are backing off of large scale salvage operations because of the opposition against the Mendo. A lot of timber left to rot on the stump


Truly sad
This is an opportunity for many reasons, but 2 are more opportunities for lumber jobs and getting much needed resources into the market when lumber prices are soaring.


You wish those in charge of such things would learn there own lessons and allow for salvage logging. I found a case study of the fie behavior of the 2012 Chips fire that burned thru the Storrie fire footprint. It talks about how the chips fire took advantage of the aftermath of the Snags and litter left from the Storrie and Belden fires. Really is proof we should allow salvage logging . I anyone cares for a interesting read I have put the link below . After the 2008 BTU fire most believed it left us with some sort of mythical safety buffer because most of the large trees were gone. The 2018 Camp Fire showed us that assumption was incorrect. Hopefully they will learn something from this wicked fire season . But the reality is they will not. Lumber jobs , Fire prevention work. all sorts of economic and social goods involved here . It is like watching the clock slowly tick away till the next blaze starts. But they only seem to care once the fire starts.



We didn’t learn anything from the failed log salvage of 2001 north fork fire, 3 or 4 years of litigation before a snag was cut and by then nobody wanted it, as it was dubbed a Sierra forester out with our forestry class THE NORTH FORK SALVAGE S… SHOW. The French and Aspen fires should have been logged but they only took what was near roads. Remember last year we had the fish fire burn fairly hot in all of that heavy down material within the burn area while fuel outside of the burn area had high fuel moisture


There isn’t a lack of supply of logs for the market. There will be plenty of logs from burned private lands to meet the demand from the existing mills. After the 2014 Klamath Fires and other 2014 NorCal fires there was so much wood on the market the USFS sold salvage logs for $0.50 PER THOUSAND BOARD FEET. That’s $2.50 for a logging truck load.
Here’s a summary of private timberland losses for 2020 in California, (put together back in September, so the numbers have changed a little since then).

Slash cleanup is critical after salvage (after all logging, really), otherwise it can make future fire hazards worse. Just meeting the lop and scatter requirements of the California Forest Practice Rules isn’t sufficient to truly reduce post-harvest wildfire hazards. This is legal:

Regarding losing lumber jobs if we don’t salvage on public lands; I don’t think this isn’t really an accurate read on how the lumber market is set up now. 25 years after the Feds really stopped most logging, the number of sawmills on the West Coast has pretty much stabilized around the private landbase that can feed them. A new sawmill can cost many many millions of dollars to build, and it’s generally seen as a 20-30-year investment. Even if the current administration was to promise XXX million board feet a year off of California National Forests, No private investors are going to build a new mill to take lumber from public lands on such a promise when they know a new Administration in Washington DC might pull a 180 on their forest policies every 4 years. Also, as far as I can tell, the big players in the timber industry don’t want to see a bunch of cheap logs coming off the public lands as a big bump in supply would cause a drop in prices the private landowners can get for their own wood.

I agree 100% we should be looking at salvage along roads, strategic ridgelines, and the firelines we open every time we have a big-box fire.


Well Said. I was not seeing the larger picture . I would imagine salvage logging and entire fire scar would not be economically or politically feasible . But one can wish , I would settle for having what is possible being done consistently . Giving foresters and firefighters a chance . Politics and special interest groups seem to rule the day and fire prevention does not rate high enough to get much play. It is just so hard to see what you have pictured above. These practices seem to guarantee a bad result. Fires use these areas as launch pads . Is there nothing more that can be done. If you look at fires in the feather river canyon they seem to feed off of previous burns . Be nice to live up on the ridge and know what can be done has been… Your numbers are telling as to why some of this is a pipe dream. So what should we do ?


No magic bullets, but I think a push to ‘socialize’ the liability of burning would help in many ways. Up until the mid 2000s, SPI was still burning a lot of their clearcuts after harvest. With this treatment, the slash picture above would have been just a bunch of red dirt with a few seedlings popping up. The Federal lawsuit against SPI after they were accused of being liable for the 2007 Moonlight Fire cost Sierra Pacific Industries something like $100M, and since then they won’t even burn piles. All of the other major timberland owners in the State are in the same boat.

I think when we lost slash burning, we really lost a lot more. Lots of us got into fire thru forestry-related burning. A whole generation of burn bosses and ignition specialists got their tickets punched burning logging slash and clearcuts. Slash burning gave foresters a playground to learn fire behavior. We need to give them back their torches.

Regarding relaxing liability rules, it is a really sticky topic. I brought up the topic in an interview I did last year with Ken Pimlott, and he said liability laws are really one of the only tools we have to keep knuckleheads from being reckless and causing major problems. I think one way forward is to create laws that shield certified burn boss-type professionals who are working within an approved burn plan and not grossly negligent. Laws like this are on the books in many other States.

(sorry to hijack the thread, any of the mods want to add these posts to a new Forestry and Fuels Management thread?)


I’m wondering if the FS will pursue salvage logging on these large incidents? Seems like a good plan, as nationwide lumber market is at record high levels making it profitable. Just need to keep the environmentalist from taking FS to court.


One of the biggest impediments to harvesting all these fire damaged trees is lack of mill capacity here is California. I have been told there are only some 25 mills left in the state. With fire camp across the street from the SPI mill in Quincy every incoming truck and every log deck is all salvaged timber.


sir, the only reason for the lack of mills is thru the restriction of harvesting.


Also, as stated above, they cost a lot of money with the long term commitment and no one wants to take that investment risk when it can change every four years.


So how would socializing the liability work. Share the cost with SPI for example and state/federal entities? I like what your saying but in this litigation happy world we live in is it possible ? Is the Pimlott interview the one you posted in a thread a while back ? You should post it again some time. Gave me somethings to ponder. Specially the mile wide fire break not being enough. But is there some one out there pushing this idea? The status quo frustrates us all and rethinking policy would seem appropriate here. It seems like the problems withing the forest come From many angles . But prevention thru various means seems necessary . Returning the torch to qualified , licensed professionals seems a like one place to start.


Wouldn’t we all love to see the day when pigs fly?


The fires of the last decade have left us with a mess on both public and private land from low to high elevations. If we don’t find a way to reduce the fuels… the snags, the standing dead brush the intrusive species, we will have stood by and watched the creation of the greatest fire hazard since the Big Burn in 1910.

A snag patch increases the difficulty of control immeasurably. There is not only the obvious addition of hundreds of tons of available fuel per acre, but the danger of falling snags and long distance spotting makes these fires incredibly difficult to handle. Don’t forget or minimize the fact many of the acres burned in this years fires are on Federal Land…with Wilderness or Roadless area restriction that have special rules for land use… no wheeled vehicles, no mechanized equipment etc.

Fire killed timber loses all of its value as sawlogs in 2 or 3 years due to bugs, stain and rot. In California we no longer have the mill capacity to handle any increase in production, so most of the timber and almost all of the oaks and brush will simply rot in place and add to the load of available fuel.

We have the technology and the capability to utilize much of this standing dead fuel…its called biomass harvest. Dead trees and brush are chopped and ground on site and hauled to Co Gen electric plants where they are burned to produce electricity. Biomass harvest is expensive and not economically viable…therefore it must be subsidized in many cases. Grant funding from California Climate Initiative money is available to communities and organizations.

Biomass harvest could be used to reduce fuel volume around targeted communities, like Paradise or Weaverville.

I’d like to see small Co Gen plants that could be moved in 10 years if the available fuel ran out…if we could set one up in the Fresno area to handle bug and fire kill…one in Greenville and one in Lake Pillsbury with ties into the electric grid layed on the ground in pipes like the Alaska pipeline everybody would benefit…We would have to get legislature to remove wilderness protection from some areas…but if the wilderness is a recognized fire hazard its more danger than benefit.

Perhaps some of the money in the Fienstien Dantes Emergency Wildfire Protection Act could be used to startup one or more of those mobile Go Gen plants.

CalFire and USFS has made much of their promise of more prescribed fire. Rx fire with no followup just increases the hazard. I propose the Agencies look toward rehab of the 4 million acres we’ve burned so far this fire season.


When Pigs Fly Indeed. If, you could return to the practice on burning slash on Private lands and get state and federal agencies to return to the days of Burn Bosses. If you could salvage log roads, ridges and where lines have been created thru the fire fighting effort that would be some sort of starting point . But hardly what anyone would consider an optimal situation. That still leaves several million acres of dead and dying timber, snags, brush and slash left ready to start the next round of fire. Seems like an endless loop . I am troubled or at least questioning why demand does not create supply with the lumber industry . The fires have created a entire industry of rebuilding homes and other structures. You would think that sort of demand would spur someone to risk building additional mill capacity. Timber is so abundant. at 2.50 for a logging truck for timber your cost of supply is almost non existent. In Paradise it is somewhat of a problem on what to do with the trees they are being harvested. 100’s of thousands of trees are be taken. The project to remove problem trees from public areas here plans to take 300,000 trees alone. Tho by the time they get around to signing the contracts and actually cutting a tree they may all become useless
and may all fall on their own. PGE has taken close to 100,000 the last time I heard a number. That is a lot of supply to deal with. If California wants to deal with its wild fire problems you think this would be the place to start. But we seem to be mired in politics ,broken and forgotten promises, litigation and inaction . You would think this would be a no brainer
But that puts us back to the early comment

I wonder if people outside of the timber and fire fighting community understand this. It cost somewhere around 2 billion dollars to deal with the aftermath of the camp fire. Seems like those funds would be better spent on things like salvage logging in a larger scale , Biomass, Coming up with ways private industry could return to burning slash and better before the fact fire prevention . Are we really being good stewards of the public lands by leaving them relatively untouched after these large fires. This gets really complicated when you look at all the different players involved.

Policy and procedure needs to be rethought. With changes to the environment that fuel droughts and warmer climates and the urban interface moving farther up hill each year the problems that created this have changed and grown and are not going away. You just cannot hire enough fire fighters to cover the results .


There is a Co-Gen plant along Hwy 99 in Tulare County that is just sitting thanks to the Governor & CARB.

While I agree with you’re statement 100% on how to deal with it, a pig farm would fly out of our asses first!


I am in agreement with @burnit . His arguments were well presented . I did a quick search on Biomass in California and was surprised by the number of plants operating . Hard to believe in this global warming crazy state they still allow it. I must show my ignorance… what is CARB.

In 2019, biomass-produced electricity in our state totaled 5,758 gigawatt-hours (GWh) or 2.87 percent of California’s in-state generation portfolio. A total of 86 operating biomass power plants, with an installed capacity about 1,289 megawatts, are in California.

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