In my last adventure, I decided to pass through an area of the Tahoe National Forest, where I worked in 1996 and 1997. During that time, I worked on fire salvage, blowdown salvage, insect salvage and roadside hazard tree projects. There was also this Service Contract, which reduced fuels without cutting trees over 9.9″ dbh. The logger had three varied types of cutting machines, each of them with their strengths and limitations. He was a crusty old guy, who didn’t like the Federal “oversight” of his work.
I usually liked to change these loggers’ perception of what inspectors do. He wasn’t used to getting “written up” for doing good work but, he was still quite wary of me. I once caught him damaging the bark of a leave tree with his machine, then getting off it, and applying some dirt to the wound (to hide it). As he was getting back to his seat, he saw me. I gave him the “naughty, naughty” hand signal, and walked over there. I waited to see how he would react to getting caught. Surprisingly, he kind of hung his head, and was quiet, for once. So, I told him that there is an acceptable level of “damage” in this kind of work and he wasn’t anywhere near close to it, yet. I think our relationship changed, a little, after that agreement.
One of the keys to success was the ability to do a cool prescribed burn. All too often, fuels are still too thick and the burn is a bit hotter than the residual trees can stand. In this case, the firefighters did well in achieving a nice, cool and effective burn. On the west-facing slopes, the brush has grown back, somewhat. That is to be expected, and will continue, until it is shaded out.
As far as resilience to fire and drought, it is pretty clear that the spacing is very good. The brush looks like it can be burned safely, on a regular basis. The pines also seem to be quite healthy and vigorous. Keep in mind, this area along Highway 89, in the eastside pine zone, is in a rainshadow east of the Sierra Nevada Crest. There are some western junipers up on the ridgetop, and the Nevada desert is 15 miles away.