Yesterday afternoon, I noticed on Twitter that the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon identified pyrocumulus clouds coming from the Bootleg Fire.
So, I decided to have a closer look at what the landscape where those pyrocumulus clouds were coming from looked like. Here’s what I found.
It appears that much of the area burning hot was very heavily logged/roaded/managed. Also, this is clearly a dry-east side forest, not the lush Oregon forest many people outside of the region may assume when they hear that a big “forest fire” is burning in Oregon.
Next, I started hearing from numerous sources that the heavily logged/roaded and ‘managed’ area where the Bootleg Fire ripped and roared through yesterday—putting up those pyrocumulus clouds—is allegedly part of a huge biomass energy, “forest offset” (ie “carbon offset) logging project.
As the #BootlegFire burns out of control in Oregon — with critical implications for public safety, air quality, and forest health — we can report that another large forest offset project appears to be on fire.
The project impacted by the #BootlegFire, ACR273, is a 400,000 acre forest project that was recently harvested for timber and has earned more than 950,000 offset credits from California’s climate regulator as it regrows. acr2.apx.com/mymodule/reg/p
I also have noticed a number of tweets from Gary Graham Hughes of Biofuels Watch, which included information such as this:
Extreme fire behavior is a result of the logging. You are missing the #climate ironies of an offset project going up in smoke plus the tens of millions of dollars of public money for Red Rock Biofuels unicorn bioenergy project that has never yet produced even one gallon of fuel.
The fire is exploding through heavily logged lands belonging to Green Diamond Resource Company, holdings that are registered as an offset project for California cap-and-trade as well as been committed to provide feedstock for the unicorn #RedRockBiofuels project in #Lakeview.
I also couldn’t help but notice this tweet from the John Muir Project:
Satellite imagery of the #BootlegFire area (perimeter updated on July 13, 2021) from 1985 to 2020. Note large swaths of land that have been "managed",clearcut, logged, & thinned during this time frame. @forestservice #StopTheChop #ListenToScience
Footage: Bryant Baker
Stay safe pic.twitter.com/JJKV2Q98SH
— John Muir Project (@JohnMuirProject) July 15, 2021
Or this map produced by Bryant Baker (MS) of Los Padres Forest Watch of the management history of the Bootleg Fire area.
I’m sure in the coming days and weeks we’ll end up learning more. It goes without saying that this part of the country just experienced some of the highest temperatures on record (and it was 121 degrees in…Canada). And this part of the world is also currently under exceptional drought or extreme drought.
If all of this sounds sort of familiar it’s because it should be. The same situation just played out in Oregon ten months ago during the deadly and destructive Labor Day fires. Speaking of those fires, and also the role that downed power lines have played in some of the most deadly and destructive wildfires in recent years, Oregon Public Broadcasting just published this story, “Residents of Gates, Oregon, aim their ire at Pacific Power nearly a year after their town burned: Despite high wind warnings, Pacific Power chose not to shut off electricity.”
According to Inciweb, the cause of the Bootleg Fire is currently “unknown.” Inciweb also reports, “Fire remains very active with significant acreage increases due to hot, dry, and breezy conditions, and plume-dominated fire behavior. Poor humidity recovery at night is contributing to active fire spread through the night time period. Robust spread rates are being generated by drought-affected fuels. Expecting similar conditions for the next several days.”
Stay safe everyone. And pray for rain…and climate action and more climate resilient communities and infrastructure. It’s going to be a long century.
UPDATE (July 20, 2021): According to InciWeb, on July 19th, the Bootleg Fire merged into the Log Fire to its northeast and now is being managed as one fire. Total acres burned to date are 388,359 acres. The cause is still “unknown.”
This is the aerial view of the northern part of the Bootleg Fire, again showing how heavily logged and roaded this specific part of the fire area is.
Also, here’s an updated map produced by Bryant Baker (MS) of Los Padres Forest Watch showing the management history of the Bootleg Fire area.
UPDATE (July 21, 2021): These new maps from Oregon Wild illustrate the extent of logging and grazing across the Bootleg Fire footprint.