Why are we spending millions to fight fire (again) in the Lassen Foothills?


#1

VLAT drops today on a backcountry fire (Lane Fire) headed for the Tehama Wildlife Area?
Why?

The whole front-country landscape below Ponderosa Way between Highway 36 and Highway 32 is overdue for burning. https://goo.gl/maps/T3rm4hPPDu42
The 45,000 acre Tehama Wildlife Area is West of the fire - burning is one of the only management tools they’ve got to reset old brush and create good-quality browse for the Tehama Deer Herd.

I know, CAL FIRE doesn’t manage fires, they just keep them as small as possible, we don’t have policy for that, it will burn up a bunch of SPI timberland, etc.

But man, there is just about NOTHING out there in 500,000 acres that won’t benefit from being burned right now.

And it’s not the public’s fault that SPI has clearcut and tree-farmed their land up there into a tinderbox that we are all now forced to pay to protect from the fire the rest of the landscape badly needs. I mean, look at this image - https://goo.gl/maps/pZAXAKnDnpu - they are growing trees in the most flammable possible way, just lopping their thinning slash and leaving it in the woods, in one of the most fire-prone places in California, and because they have decided to do it here, we’ve got to manage half a million acres of our best deer habitat without fire?

CAL FIRE says they want to do more prescribed burning, and I am glad to hear it. I’d just like to see them do some 100,000 acre units, cause a couple hundred acres here or there ain’t going to get it done!


#2

Brush Hawg,
I completely agree with you EXCEPT that the radio traffic all day has made it clear that the concern is about the homes and other structures in the area. Sky Ranch, Paynes Creek, and other small groupings of structures. Further evidence is that there are enough structures threatened that an FMAG application was made.
Justification for spending millions will continue until agencies and more importantly/appropriately communities in the WUI take action to seriously manage fuels.

Until fuels around communities are managed (mechanically, RX fire, or by whatever means) spending big bucks can easily be justified. In fact, our elected representatives would say, not spending big bucks to suppress fires cannot be justified.

We have to fix the WUI.

All of the above are sort of the facts, but I offer them as humble opinion.


#3

Not polically correct, I know, but this is an example of the WUI we are protecting in this case:

Not sure why taxpayers need to fund firesafe council programs to pay for a never-ending amount of fuels work around any collection of shacks.


#4

Assets at risk in Ponderosa Sky Ranch:
https://goo.gl/maps/zqvE8sZqjnR2
This place never should have been built, and now we are stuck fighting fire on half a million acres to protect it.


#5

4 air tankers worked to save this travel trailer


If engines tried to get to it they would have burned being trapped by this mess.

And the 35 abandoned cars on black mountain road.

This was before the 2016 Goose fire. I got torched by a few members on the old site for posting this even though it was very relevant to the firefighting activities on the next day after it jumped the retardant line and took 300 more acres along with the structures, vehicles, and other junk in the later photos. Meadow lakes where our family cabin is and is planned subdivision


#6

I wouldn’t call this WUI. Maybe wildland-rural interface is a better term.
I don’t think we’ll ever get ahead of the WUI issue. Ponderosa Sky Ranch is in a very productive zone for growing brush, just like Cohasset, Forest Ranch, Paradise, Feather Falls, Brownsville, Smartville, and Southward, all the way to Kern County.
Half the lots in the PSR subdivision will never be sold, and half of the rest will be occupied by tweakers and growers who won’t mow their (large) yards. At $1,000+ per acre to masticate brush every 5-10 years, just this one little community could spend $50,000/year just to keep up with the regrowth.


#7

I too won’t get into the pros and cons and PC of what is worth the effort. However at the very basic level, these are people’s homes. Humans. Out one corner of the mouth we may get mad at the homelessness problem in CA. Out the other corner, we ask why save a shack? Something to ponder. I also agree with Tehama Wildlife and our Front country. It needs healthy fire bad!

But neither here nor there…I was eyes on T911 first drop on the fire and it was in direct support of protecting the Sky Ranch. Plenty more spots it could have dropped to help control the fire etc, but it was about life safety on the (at the time due to winds) a backing portion of the fire and one wind shift away from 30minutes to Sky Ranch. They pounded that unstaffed line with tanker after tanker.


#8

Another good example for this topic today - we dumped a dozen tanker loads of mud, exposed scores of firefighters to un-necessary aviation risk, and worked hard to put out a fire that is sorely needed on the landscape. Can we really call suppressing the Parade Fire a ‘success’? Ishi Wilderness needs fire!


#9

Probably because this was an unnatural ignition in a bad time of year with slightly drawn down resources with a fire wx watch within 36 hours of ignition? Or maybe it’s because over the ridge is Hwy32 and subsequent population areas as well as private timber. It’s not within the wilderness area. Troop shuttle is the go-to out here in the foothills. It is an immediate logistical point for any incident out there and there are pre-established crew rally points and LZ’s all around the foothills that either need just a phone call to the ranch owner, or a wave and nod of the head. Gun2 fire had Chinooks with their tail ramps on 1000ft canyon rims and the front of the copter hovering for troop insertion. Risky? Knowing their maintenance and skills, helicopters are a lot safer than driving those roads four troops to a vehicle for hours until reaching pavement. Fire Storm crew this morning will not make the shuttle and will have to walk in, a good 90 minutes from their vehicles to the fire line. Sprained ankles or other injuries would create a lot more complexity in that location than general troop shuttle…

Despite some of the crass comments earlier on shelters/homes/etc. I get where you’re coming from, and I agree we need more good fire on the ground. I’ve seen some plans in place for healthy fire out there, especially on non-federal areas of the foothills. I’m not sure what the federal plans are, if any. But it’s an uphill battle to put a spark on the ground. All the stakeholders need to be in alignment with their approval and understanding. Fire is scary to a lot of general population, and they are stakeholders, including their homes and lungs. It works in communities that grow up with fire, up in the Klamath area etc. They understand good fire, and have great active programs. Also some good programs on the Mendocino Forest working with private stakeholders etc. It’s out there, it’s being done, it just needs more soothing, stakeholder education, funding, plans and lines on maps, cooperative weather, less politics etc.


#10

And on the front page of this morning’s paper, situated at the foot of said foothills…

Considering the Stoll fire wiped out the west side of town and was stopped right before reaching the Reeds Creek greenbelt area, this is awesome.

So it’s getting done. Slowly and surely.


#11

Another fire here in the Lassen Foothills today, the Sun, and they are ordering up VLATs for a Eastside Tehama grass fire, will spend $500k on aircraft alone this afternoon.

All this fire has out in front of it for 200,000 acres is a bunch of Nature Conservancy land (that they’d love to burn if they could figure out how), a State Game Refuge that desperately needs fire, grass, brush, and wilderness.
https://goo.gl/maps/7fHV1SZv2GL2

Meanwhile, Butte Meadows and Cohasset, the only towns anywhere within 40 miles of where this is headed, and all of the timberlands above, are soaking wet - you couldn’t start a fire up there right now with a flamethrower.

The outlook says ‘Lighter winds and higher RH are expected Tuesday onward, although some moderately strong, gusty overnight NE to E wind through the western drainages of the Cascades/Sierra seem likely’ - so even the worst-case scenario would just turn the fire down toward the Valley, not toward any high value timber.

This fire would go out on its own when it got to the timber, after doing the ranchers and wildlife a huge amount of good work. Protect a coule of cabins and radio towers and LET IT BURN, PEOPLE!

Where is the leadership? How come we are so stuck doing the wrong thing? There is no better place or time of year to use fire at the landscape-scale.


#12

@Brush_Hawg your opinion is DEFINITELY heard. But as you make infliction to understanding “leadership” ( or questioning “where it is”)
As a leader you certainly know that; pointing out wrong-doings, inadequacies or plainly things you don’t like, MUST be followed with plans, options and well defined intentions. Not highlights by screaming “LET IT BURN”.

Secondly, as you asked where the leadership is, here is a quote from the Calfire 7000 manual. This phrase is prefaced by the departments Mission Statement.

FIRE PROTECTION OBJECTIVE 7001.2
(October 2002)
**CAL FIRE’s fire protection objective states that a system of basic fire protection will be **
**provided so that damages to life, property and natural resources will be held at or below **
**a level acceptable within social, political and economic constraints. Board of Forestry **
**and Fire Protection designates in the Fire Plan that CAL FIRE will strive to contain 95% **
of all unwanted fires at 10 acres or less.

Next.
Since there is no such thing as wind machine, I’m sure that your perceived "let it burn " policy ,would be wildly accepted by those south of the Lassen foothills,whereas your burn prescription would boldly and intentionally deposit the smoke.(Sacramento Valley)

Next,
Any chance you know what the fuel moistures are in the high country? Typically we here something like
" season ending event" to indicate the need of blow torches. In fact, I remember hearing some many years ago…1 hour of rain…1 hour of sun is a brake even…throw in 25mph RFW, I’m guessing those surface fuels are ready to carry fire, specifically in exposed or under drip lines( not black pipe)

Lastly.

I understand your concerns and genuinely think conceptually you are correct in the environmental needs and positive impacts of burning… But how dare ANYONE judge what is " something" or “nothing”( ie travel trailer)???. Blood has been let, and people have lost their lives protecting “less”. Leadership does not also include disrespecting other humans, or their property, relative or compared to yours.


#13

I am asking a serious question regarding leadership. Not throwing stones at the people fighting this fire, but asking why we are still working our asses off to implement a fire policy that could have been written in 1940. Don’t we know better? We knew better in the 1970s and 1980s when CAL FIRE spent a lot of time lighting this same landscape on fire (in the hottest part of the summer) with big VMP burns for the ranchers, and we certainly have the fire science to make good plans and the know-how and backbone to implement them.

The policy is what it is, but that doesn’t make it good. I do propose a simple and well defined intention - protect assets at risk and let the fire burn. Humidities overnight and tomorrow night are supposed to be 50%, and I DO know what the fuel moistures in Butte Meadows are. I was up there today and had a campfire. I spent the last two days in the woods. Things are wet. I was looking at them with an eye to how they would carry fire, and it really DID take a blowtorch to get our campfire going!

Regarding air quality, it is great right now. Driving down the hill the whole Valley was clear, you could see all the way down to Lake County from Forest Ranch. The Northerly flow is a perfect setup for smoke dispersion.

And about keeping good fire off of a couple hundred thousands of acres that need it so we can protect a few cabins or trailers, I am sorry - if you live in the foothills, you need to make your property safe from wildfire, period. We don’t need to spill more blood saving something the owners won’t spend 30 minutes weed-eating.


#15

Points taken, aknowledged, understood and agreed.

Now for the planning , leadership and gaining the understanding of those that DONT get( understand) what the landscape needs. Be that political, agency, or taxpayer. It’s all about presentation.
I’m on your side @Brush_Hawg , we just have to craft the solution into a cute little box with a bow on it :+1:.