This wildfire, on the Amador Ranger District, of the Eldorado National Forest. was sparked by crews cutting hazard trees along powerlines. I was a Sale Administrator, detailed to help salvage timber and accomplish contract work over 55% of the burned area. New marking guidelines, ordered by the courts, were first used on this project. While the plans survived a lower court challenge, the infamous Ninth Circuit Court decided that the new guidelines were “confusing” and more analysis regarding the blackbacked woodpecker was needed.
Here is what one of the cutting units looks like today. Choked with deerbrush, with not much in the way of conifers established.
This picture shows the striking contrast of Forest Service, versus private timberlands. You can clearly see the property lines and the section corner. What you cannot see is the accelerated erosion that came off the private lands, impacting the road at the bottom of the picture. Between the deerbrush and the the thick bear clover, conifers have little chance to recover, and a re-burn might be in the future for this patch of Federal land. The upper tract of Federal land seems to have no standing snags left, due to blowdown. The rest of the area seems to be choked with snags that died since harvesting was completed. At least SOME of the fuels for a future wildfire have been significantly reduced.
This area has a history of Indian occupation, and the forest still shows it. The bear clover re-grew and covered the bare soil within 6 months. Today, people would be hard-pressed to find ANY logging damage, on this side of the fire area. What really amazed me is that this project has ALREADY suffered a re-burn. The fuels reduction definitely saved the remaining old growth from burning to a crisp. This forest has its resilience back, has a better species composition, and seems ready for a regular program of prescribed fire.
As you can see, the light and the weather didn’t cooperate. I’m sure I will be going back to capture some more images, and to compare them to the photos I took six years ago.