SF Chronicle: Balanced Rim Fire Salvage Article

Chad Hanson get the first quote and a photo, but this story also includes quotes from John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resources Center, and Scott Stephens, “UC Berkeley’s chief fire science expert.” Overall, it’s a good encapsulation of the issue.

10 thoughts on “SF Chronicle: Balanced Rim Fire Salvage Article”

  1. Fighting over less than 2% of the burned trees does not seem to be a prudent strategy. While I recognize that some existing natural regeneration is likely to be damaged within the prospective timber sale area, having the vast majority of the 400 square mile burn area available for natural regeneration seems to be a reasonable offset. But then again, in my experience/observation, this topic has not been debated reasonably. So, off to court we all go, waiting for a judge to rule on a societal value problem with legal lenses.

  2. I didn’t find the article to be very accurate, along with some of the quotes. One that stands out to me is calling the Rim Fire “wind-driven”. There were no high winds, other than the normal morning and afternoon canyon air flow. It was the “column collapse” and the fire itself that generated the winds.

    Additionally, the fire slowed down because it was running into barren granite, and not previously-burned patches of National Park. It DID run into the devastation of the A-Rock/Meadow Fires boundary (Tioga Pass Road), though. I think we can expect the portion of the Rim Fire that killed mature forests to re-burn, just like in the Meadow Fire (which consumed so many seed sources). I would expect a combination of incinerating the soil’s organic matter, and climate change, to severely impact whatever might seed in, ‘naturally’.

    I did find the comments to be somewhat amusing, as well as the misinformed captions of some of the pictures. (No one seems to know what kind of tree Chad Hanson is handling.)

  3. I can’t read the SFC article, but here is another that also seems “balanced: “http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_1652c9f4-dfe0-11e9-b40b-3ff9f8ca2687.html

    The main point of disagreement seems to be whether “most of the forest proposed for logging would not regenerate naturally for several decades” (based on observations of “demonstrated significant amounts of regrowth in pine trees” in areas proposed for logging) or, “The agency is not actively cutting young trees that have sprouted in high-intensity patches of the fire’s footprint over the past five years.” If they leave actual regenerating areas alone, everyone should be mostly happy, right?

    • I agree that if they are logging 2% it seems like they would pick those out. We’d have to see maps and go check it out ourselves to be clearer on this. Does anyone live around there?

      Also, I wrote the authors of these two pieces and thanked them. I encourage others to do this as well. Remember that management training the FS had when we were supposed to “catch people doing something right”?

    • Hi Jon, the original article link worked for me. Maybe retry it?

      I think the justification for the project also hinges on concerns about the potential for reburning, access, and maybe even aesthetics. Remember that this project is a small area of front country.

      What strikes me is that the environmental groups suing are very clear that they see the outcome of this one area symbolizing the broader conflict over forest resource management: “We don’t see this as just an isolated thing. The danger is that this administration or a future administration will increasingly treat the trees on our national forests like they are coal fields. We cannot afford that.”

      Meanwhile, the local source states that “the logging and reforestation plan proposed by the Forest Service has the full support of a coalition of local politicians, tribal groups, hunters and environmentalists.” The environmental groups are treating this project as a pawn in what is really a political battle, while the locals are focused on the here-and-now practical matter of how to manage this landscape.

      The two groups are playing different games with the same piece of land.

      • Conor, Thanks for your thoughts here,. I think you’re on to something more broadly than this salvage litigation., There are some (a) environmental groups that discuss and negotiate about managing the landscape (talking about what I would call “things”, trees, birds, animals) while (b) other environmental groups treat land management decisions as a pawn in a larger political power struggle (and talk about “ideas about things”) like stopping forests from being treated as “coalfields”.

        Perhaps that’s why I’ve had so little success getting individuals from the b groups to engage on specifics (e.g., what would you change about this project?).

        • If the “b” group’s tactics work, why would they discontinue those tactics? I am not advocating to shut them out of the process, but the topic of public land management is larger than those groups’ agenda(s). Thus, their ambition to control the conversation is no different than how the conversation was controlled before these groups became involved. So, now both spectrum ends have had their chance to make things better and look where we are…a stalemate that relies on a judge to make it “right”. The power to make it “right” lies in the people’s hands, not a judge.

          • To some, “Consensus” is one of those dirty “C-Words” they want no part of. That is why we are still stuck in “Collaboration”, which is supposed to educate people about the issues (as well as the ‘foot-draggers’). It remains to be seen how we can actually go about marginalizing BOTH extremes, through “Consensus”. Again, “Compromise” is easy when “Consensus” is achieved. However, proceeding on to “Compromise” without “Consensus” always leads to litigation.


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