More Rim Fire Pictures

All too often, once a firestorm goes cold, a fickle public thinks the disaster is over with, as the skies clear of smoke. In the situation of the Rim Fire, the public hasn’t had much chance to see the real damages within the fire’s perimeter. All back roads have been closed since the fire was ignited. Besides Highway 120, only Evergreen Road has been opened to the public, within the Stanislaus National Forest.

From my April trip to Yosemite, and Evergreen Road, this unthinned stand burned pretty hot. This would have been a good one where merchantable logs could be traded for small tree removal and biomass. Notice the lack of organic matter in the soil.

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Sometimes people say there is no proof that thinning mitigates fire behavior. It’s pretty clear to me that this stand was too dense and primed for a devastating crown fire. I’m guessing that its proximity to Yosemite National Park and Camp Mather, as well as the views from Evergreen Road have made this area into a “Park buffer”. Now, it becomes a “scenic burn zone”, for at least the next few decades.

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There is some private land along Evergreen Road, which seem to have done OK, at least in this view. Those mountains are within Yosemite National Park. Sadly, the media likes to talk about “reduced burn intensities, due to different management techniques”, within Yosemite National Park. Only a very tiny percentage of the National Park lands within the Rim Fire have had ANY kind of management. Much of the southeastern boundary of the fire butts up against the Big Meadow Fire, generally along the Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120). Additionally, much of the burned Yosemite lands are higher in elevation, as well as having larger trees with thicker bark. You can also see that there will be no lack of snags for the blackbacked woodpecker. Can anyone say, with scientific sincerity, that over-providing six years of BBW habitat will result in a significant bump in birds populations? The question is really a moot point, since the Yosemite acreage, alone, does just that.

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People have, and will continue to compare the Yosemite portion of the Rim Fire to the Stanislaus National Forest portion, pointing at management techniques and burn intensities. IMHO, very little of those comparisons are really valid. Apples versus oranges. Most of the Forest Service portion of the fire is re-burn, and there is no valid Yosemite comparison (other than the 2007 Big Meadow Fire). It has been a few months since I have been up there, and I expect that there are plenty of bark beetles flying, and the trees around here have no defense against them, with this persistent drought. Everything is in motion and “whatever happens” is happening.

5 Comments

  1. A few years ago, a forester from Australia, a Fellow at the World Forestry Center in Portland, was studying how Americans deal with wildfire. At his concluding lecture, he said that Americans are just like Australians. When the fires are raging and homes are burning, people are saying, “You gotta do something!” Next winter, when the fires are gone (and forgotten) and someone proposes doing something, people are saying, “You want to do what?!”

    People’s memories are very short and, sometimes, we just can’t win.

  2. Quite similar to the public’s reaction to oil shortages. We are a nation of ninnies, chained to resource non-management by the “do-nothings” who protest, appeal, and litigate any effort to bring rationality to the system.

  3. What a glorious wreck. Some folks should be made to camp out in that black stand with winds predicted. Might wake them up.
    In other news, that Carlton Complex fire seems to be rockandrolling — I bet it slams into the Okanogan river and stops after nuking everything west of that line. Already at 114,000 acres after a megafire run yesterday? Is this stupid or what?
    Wind is blowing here, can’t see the mountains, meaning the air is at the “bad” point.

    • We must be awash with “resource benefits”, and it’s only mid July. I also hear that the Bully Fire on the Shasta-T is being “Let-Burn”. I’ve heard air tankers flying over, twice today, going north and east, methinks. In some ways, we’ve dodged many bullets, already, this year. It’s dry as hell and there could be dozens of large fires raging out of control, under these conditions. As fire conditions and incidents rise, coupled with not enough suppression resources available, I’m betting that we’ll start seeing Forest closures, “for our own good”. That’s a “happening” that would surely be “discussed” by the local public, in an ugly public forum.

      I just had a wild idea! Let’s see a preservationist group(s) produce a NEPA document mock-up that supports their views, and we can try to pick it apart.

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