Update From the Yosemite “Laboratory”

Here is a stitched-together panorama from the Foresta area of Yosemite National Park. I’ll have to pair it up with my historical version, one of these days. Restoration processes seem to be minimal, as re-burns continue to ravage the landscape, killing more old growth forests and eliminating more seed sources. Even the brush is dying off, due to a lack of organic matter in some of those granitic soils. With the 200-400 year old trees gone, we have to remember that these stand replacement fires, in this elevational band of the Sierra Nevada, weren’t very common before the 1800’s.

Foresta-panorama-crop-webYes, it IS important that we learn our lessons from the “Whatever Happens” management style of the Park Service. Indeed, we should really be looking closely at the 40,000+ acres of old growth mortality from the Rim Fire, too! Re-burns could start impacting the Rim Fire area, beginning this fire season.

4 thoughts on “Update From the Yosemite “Laboratory””

  1. Larry, I am sorry you are afflicted with reburn-phobia. Maybe science could be your antidote. Keep in mind the following:
    1) reburn happens. it’s part of the natural range of variability.
    2) reburn affects only a subset of burned areas, usually a small subset.
    3) don’t be afraid. change is part of nature. climate change is expected to convert some places from forests to other kinds of forests, or chaparral.
    4) fire (including reburn) is facilitating these changes. if it’s an inevitable outcome of increasing GHG levels, maybe we should accept “whatever happens.”

    • When you have ancient forests, hundreds of years old, all burn up at once, you are left with a barren landscape, set back for maybe another 400 years. Actually, we don’t know what will happen, when man’s hand is all over most National Forests, everywhere. Pretending that those forests can be “re-wilded” back into a pre-man condition is a fool’s quest. Many forests have been affected by man since the glaciers retreated. So, what really is “natural” for our National Forests? The “Whatever Happens” mindset surely isn’t “natural”.

    • On one hand it is so important to save the old growth forests and on the other it’s ok to destroy, and burn up old growth forests and turn them into brush fields, just make sure you never take any trees to town to make something from them, and everything will be ok. Is that how it works? I personally prefer our forests green, with trees..

      • One thing we have learned from the A-Rock/Big Meadow re-burns is that escaped prescribed fire, re-burning during near-record high temperatures, causes a lot of damage and costs $17,000,000 to put out, while using up suppression resources in the middle of fire season. Why do we continue to allow the Park Service to do this?!? Restricting burning projects from the summer months might seem like a no-brainer but, the policy of summer burning is still in force.

        Yes, Yosemite seems to be the perfect place for trying misguided policies, regarding wildfires. While “free-range” wildfire might be appropriate for National Parks, in a few cases, that doesn’t make it “natural”.


Leave a Comment