It’s making me ill seeing all the ads on TV about class action suits blaming PG&E. I’m not saying PG&E didn’t have a hand in some of it. Its just the lack of personal responsibility that is apparent today. And, the responsibility of the city/county fathers & mothers that DID NOT take action to try to prevent the fires that WERE PREDICTED by many of us in the fire service. It was all designed to burn and WILL eventually. Lack of pre-fire planning. Lack of enforcement of pre-fire plans. MY vote is to burn it! Burn it often. Don’t let folks build in a location that will not be defend able under any conditions. Force those that will not clear their brush that will ignite their neighbors spotless yard due to radiant heat. My friend lost their home in Paradise for that exact reason. He asked the neighbor to clean up his brush and even offered to help him. I witnessed it. His answer was “NO”. Maybe what Trump is saying to the Gov. Gavin is correct? But as long as the folks want to be re-elected they will be afraid to force folks to do the right thing. Your turn…
you are on the right track. more involved than power companies. more than the deepest pocket.
Thanks, DFO! I always like a good rant!
Regarding personal responsibility, we’ve all got to own the fact that our leadership is currently pretty much incapable of switching the channel from full-suppression to using fire or burning at anywhere close to the scales we need. If we want a sea change in how we deal with fire, we’ve got to step up and speak up.
The mainstream media play us as warriors in yellow, but are willing to avoid anything that conflicts with the official messaging. And the PIO narrative is still pretty narrow, demonizing fire, judging success by percent containment, extolling heroism, while avoiding politics or complexities.
The public has an huge appetite for a new narrative - everyone can see the old ways of doing it aren’t working anymore. I get very little negative feedback when I put up Facebook posts advocating more managed wildfire. We need to endrun the PIOs using social media, telling our friends and their friends the unvarnished truth - that the answer is not more DC-10s and 747s, and that a bunch of mountaintop cameras with artificial intelligence aren’t going to make places like Paradise any safer on the bad days.
We can’t just hold our tongues and go along with implementing bad policies - and keeping on throwing massive suppression resources at a remote, minimally populated fire like the Ranch Fire IS bad policy.
And we can’t stop leading after we retire. We need to make it happen from the ground up.
Saw a bumper sticker the other day:
Log it, graze it, or watch it burn.
The fuels will grow. We can do something economically productive with them, and self sustaining, or we can spend tax dollars to burn them, or we can spend tax dollars when they burn at an undesired time.
Yep, though they aren’t either/or. I’ve been on a lot of fires in the past twenty years that ripped in recently logged units. A lot of the land that has been clearcut and turned into tree farms in the Sierra over the past 20 years is a lot more flammable than it would be if they had selectively logged and burned the slash.
Here’s the Pondersoa Fire scar in Tehama County. It pretty much looked like the rest side of the screen before the fire (which ran 7 miles+ in the first afternoon). Grazing is critical, for sure!
BV, where can I get 1 of those bumper stickers?
I don’t know where, I just saw it on an old pickup going down the road.
I don’t know if they originated it, but the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau was/is selling hats, shirts, stickers etc… they are on FB…
Completely agree here! While PG&E can be found as an ignition source it isn’t as if an ignition of some other kind would never occur when conditions are right. Some would say we can’t Rx fire our way into preventing these disasters but another aspect is painfully obvious to those with long experience… you can’t suppress your way out of it either. Be it fires running through structures or, as in the recent Walker fire, blowing large holes out of old timber stands on National Forest land. Fuel build up as a result of suppression is also well documented in science and has occurred rapidly and only getting worse. Quiz [rhetorical] question. Which leg of the fire behavior triangle can reasonably be affected?
Bumper sticker. One of the Division Chiefs I worked for had one in his office that read “Only You Can Postpone Forest Fires”. Where he got it I don’t know.
Remember in the last year or two we had several fires during offshore wind events. Some were caused by PG&E but one was caused by shoddy aerial premise wiring and one was caused by a tent peg/hammer interface.
For whatever reason the Department declined to prosecute those two.
I don’t know if they should have been prosecuted but ignitions are ignitions…
Good choice for when your bumper isn’t big enough for an actual, thoughtful, real solution.
It seems that a lot of people, including most politicians are making this a single threaded problem. PG&E management does rightfully deserve much criticism over their decisions to not properly maintain their clearance and infrastructure. However, I personally see this as a much larger multi-faceted issue. When I first started as seasonal in SCU, we used to conduct fuel reduction burns in the late fall consisting of several thousand acres. Those were highly effective in creating sustainable breaks in the fuel beds, providing better range land and maintaining the native vegetation. In today’s world, a few hundred acre burns are considered to be major success stories.
As time has progressed, people who have moved into the WUI, tend to provide less and less defensible space clearance, which does nothing to prevent a wildfire from damaging or destroying their home or possessions.
The political landscape is becoming or has become, such that fire is always seen as bad thing and the consequences of that belief system are becoming more and more evident with the amount of destruction these fires are having.
The real question for me, is how to get the political landscape to recognize that VMP or fuel reduction burns will begin to recreate the much needed buffer between the civilian population and a very destructive wildland fire.
ADD: One of the effects of wall to wall media coverage of major wildland fires is that the general public only sees the devastation created by these big fires. Nobody ever really gets to see that the Rx burns are extremely beneficial to the ecosystems in the area. Other than this forum, nobody really even knew about the Caples Rx burn until it escaped and became treated as a wildfire. The media tends to, perhaps unwittingly sometimes, only focus on the sensational news, which large fires tend to be.
This is one of those discussions that I’ve been dabbling in with friends and family and glad to see it here as well. I’m in a unique position to really see the fire side, the PGE side, and the affected citizen/community side.
We as a society have become so quick to blame, or demand blame (anywhere else but me right?) and then quickly raise the pitchforks. It’s in our political sphere, it’s in our personal sphere, it’s at work, it’s everywhere. Just like what our massive businesses have become, capitalizing on the gains and socialize the losses, we are demanding the benefits of being a stakeholder, but not committing to the cost and weight of being a stakeholder. We vehemently yell at the problem, but when it’s time to put up, we shut up.
We want a rural house with a view. We want property with no government fingers or regulations touching it. We want electricity and 5 bars of cell service to it. We want it all. But we don’t want to assume any risk for that. PGE better keep that 15mile rural line energized to my property so I can watch the game and keep my meat frozen. There wasn’t even any wind on my property!
Committing to being a stakeholder requires getting dirty, it requires some ugly questions. Questions not meant to place blame, but to get dialog started so we can grow and bypass the damn waste of time the blame game is. Are we all ready to admit that despite public opinion, PGE does in fact spend millions on maintaining their system? Can we also admit that, with hindsight, it certainly wasn’t enough, or timely enough, especially in the changing climate? Is that…neglect?
Are we also adult enough to understand our climate is changing right here in our backyard with prolonged fire conditions and drier fuels; weather systems that seem to be shifting 10yr storms into 1yr storms, and 50-100yr storms into 5-10yr storms? Are we ready to admit that we still want 24/7 power, on lines traversing that drying tinderbox faster than PGE can/is hardening it? Are we ready to admit that many of us curse at the beautiful trees being cut down, at the PGE copters flying low over our backyards, or at the power bill rising to catch up with what it maybe should have been earlier?
Are we ready to admit we have a mess of captured regulatories with our CPUC, legislators, FCC etc so companies spend money on lobbyists to avoid improving any of these utilities beyond the minimal so that profits and bonuses can soar? Are we ready to admit we allowed the entire cellphone infrastructure to be built with zero fed or state regulation regarding backup power? Are we ready to admit we allowed the phone companies to transition their copper (regulated since early 1900’s) over to fiber (bypassing instead of transitioning those regulations) so they also don’t require backup power? Are we ready to vote appropriately to start cleaning this greedy mess up, from our local council on up to state and fed?
And the hardest question to ask for us in this group (hold on, putting my ARFF suit on for this one), did any of us on these fires make a decision that inadvertently allowed that fire to grow bigger?
Are we ready to admit that regulations citing better building codes, utility maintenance and hardening, logging practices that don’t cause crowning, etc should be looked at?
Our current practice of pointing a finger to persecute/prosecute the spark (or not, in the case of Tubbs, Ranch, and Carr fires) doesn’t take into consideration any of the ugly questions above. Is that spark beholden to all that above? Damned that spark occurred in Nov and not in January, that neighbor’s mess caused your house to burn, the trees are a decade into drought and beetle kill, that DIVS didn’t hold their ground when they could have, that wonk in a cubicle in the air pollution office 400 miles away said no to the VMP a year before that could have prevented this, that politician that took money for a vote, that CEO who should have spent 30% instead of 20% revenue on maintenance.
edit: sorry for wall of text - that added up quickly
Well that’s what I meant to say.
No more steel wheels on travel trailers, Plastic or composite? Carr fire…
Well said Norcal.
How do we get the politicians to log into this and, do they care about the facts?
Very well said
This (clearcuts worse than selective cuts) is not the case. Selective cuts leave more slash that is more difficult to clean up. And multiple entries cause far more disturbance to the soil, remaining trees, and just about everything else. Plus, multiple entries increases exposure of the woods to potential sources of ignition. And second growth, well - managed, is healthier, more resistant to disease and bugs – hence less prone to hot wildfires. Modern clearcutting, properly done, is far and away the better timber management model in the long run, unless some environmental factor militates against it.
I’d be OK with your post if you had just said "It depends’.
All of your statements can legitimately be debated. Location, economics, timing, fire regimes, past practices, land use objectives and projected changes in climate should dictate management strategies. Your prescription doesn’t leave much room for resilience. Telling is your use of the term ‘timber management model’. Even privately owned lands have more going on than wood growth. Patch size and deliberate monoculture have huge implications for future growth, fire effects, and fauna response, especially in the mixed-severity fire regime of the Klamath/Siskiyou region.
Don’t take me for a tree-hugger. I had a great career and pension greatly supported by BD (brush disposal collections from timber receipts on the 2 largest timber producing National Forests. I have also seen large investments in KV dollars (reforestation collections) pissed away in the Klamath because the little trees that were planted will never make it to rotation because of fire.
I’ll stand by my 25 years experience working in fire and fuels across the Western US. My comment about the flammability in clearcuts is specific to interior Northern California, especially since we stopped burning slash. I find most conversations about forestry are best had in the woods, and am happy to go on a hike with anyone who wants to talk about fire and fuels.