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Author Topic: Wildfires in California  (Read 3003 times)

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Offline DeerMeadowFarm

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Wildfires in California
« on: August 07, 2018, 10:26:47 AM »
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this or not...? President Trump tweeted something about the lack of water being a major contributor to the cause of these wildfires in California. The liberals are saying that there's no lack of water to fight these fires but is that what Trump meant? I was always under the impression that these fires are happening due to poor forest management; lack of sustainable logging for example. The American Tree Farm system always talks about managed forests being essential to protect the natural aquifers as well and I wondered if that's what Trump was talking about. Liberals are of course, jumping all over him because they feel it's due to global warming. Who is right?

Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2018, 11:02:36 AM »
Cannot speak for the President, but, lack of rain is the prime cause, and building in areas prone to fire, and any other factor that humans contribute.
The Ranger, home of Texas Forestry

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2018, 12:00:43 PM »
Most of the media out here is jumping all over his comment about letting too much water down the rivers to the ocean.  CalFire people say they cannot comment on the Prez's comments but water does go down the rivers and eventually ends up in the ocean (duh).  I'm not bashing Trump, but this is another of his not-so-well-though-out-tweets.  I can't figure out what he really meant.

Yes, 4 years of drought weakened the forests and tons of beetle-killed trees.  There has been a scramble to cut them down and harvest what they can but too little, too late in some areas (difficult terrain).  There is lots of water in the reservoirs but plenty of controversy over releases to support the fisheries and the plans to divert even more water down to SoCal with the "tunnels" project. (target of Trump's comments?)

Right now, oppressive heat, changing wind directions and low humidity is making the big fires troublesome.  The Carr (Redding area) fire is now the largest fire ever in California.  That is said to have been ignited by a flat tire on a camper trailer.  The Mendicino Complex fire (Clear Lake area) is the same general area (little further north/west) of the fires 2 or 3 years ago that destroyed thousands of homes.  The Yosemite fire was an act of arson.

We go from high smoke (looks like high clouds) to fog-like smoke from day to day and the fires are 100's of miles from me.  Fire crews from Australia and NZ arrived yesterday.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2018, 05:22:33 PM »
The problem is not that they lack the water to fight the fire. The problem is that the forests are too dry, and there is a load of fuel that has built up, just waiting for the right conditions. The conditions now are very "right" for wildfires. It's incredibly dry out there.

I listened to a radio interview with an expert a couple of days ago. His statement was that their problem is not a lack of water in reservoirs and rivers, it's the dry conditions. Further he stated that even if they had a massive sprinkler system watering the forests, moisture is evaporating too fast for that to prevent these things. And he said the conditions have shown a worsening trend in recent years, and that trend is likely to continue.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline John Mc

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2018, 05:23:40 PM »
This could be an interesting discussion, if it doesn't devolve into a political rant.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2018, 05:34:25 PM »
Having lived in Oregon and traveled northern California as a result I have seen many places that were traditionally grass covered which transitioned to Juniper. Even the road side signs explain that historical, natural, fires kept the Juniper from establishing. They also detail how Juniper consumes a lot more water than grass, so there is some truth to the notion that human management is responsible for what we are seeing there today. 
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2018, 06:35:22 PM »
And he said the conditions have shown a worsening trend in recent years, and that trend is likely to continue.
 
Yeah, I'm getting tired of the news stations saying that lots of big fires "is the new norm".  Its the new norm because they don't let nature burn like its supposed to to (Tom) to clean out the debris.  Along one smaller highway, they have cleared the dead trees and made burn "piles" to set off when the rains return.  These piles are bigger than houses!
John Sawicky

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Offline DMcCoy

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2018, 07:30:45 AM »
I live surrounded by douglas fir tree plantations.  The dead branches go right down to the ground.  Ladder fuels they are called, where a ground fire can become a crown fire.  I understand the economics but this is a disaster waiting to happen and I don't see any effort by the major and mid sized timberland holders to act proactively.  There have been cost share programs to get land owners to limb their trees to 12'.  I limbed my trees before I was aware of it.

Decades of fire suppression have bought us to this point out here in the west.  There are prescribed burns taking place on the east side of the cascades but these are small in the big picture.   In certain areas they will let naturally caused fires to burn. 
It doesn't take a great imagination to understand that 300 yrs ago fires ran unchecked by man across this land frequently after summer lightening storms.  Drought of course makes a bad situation worse.

There are not really good options other than to let this stuff burn (as much as possible) because it will eventually and more explosively if we don't.
My 2 cents.


Offline DeerMeadowFarm

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2018, 08:02:58 AM »
This could be an interesting discussion, if it doesn't devolve into a political rant.
It was my intent, and hope that this would NOT be a political rant.

Offline BradMarks

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2018, 12:51:29 PM »
This is not political, just a fact.  Of all the acreage burned in Oregon last year, over 90%, maybe close to 95% was federal land, either USFS or BLM.  Many reasons for this. For one, combined they "own" the largest land base in the state.  And due to the overall lack of forest management, road systems have deteriorated or even worse, been de-commissioned, hindering access. Private timberland in the state on the other hand generally have good roads throughout their land, multiple heli-spots established, designated water holes, on call aircraft and such. Fires, when they happen, are kept much smaller because of this.  I am not a fan of the let it burn policy, and then let it lay fallow.  One of the current fires in Southern Oregon is burning again in the footprint of the Biscuit Fire of 2002. 

Offline Klunker

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2018, 03:38:53 PM »
Fire is a management tool used and is very effective for certain types of ecosystems.
In fact some ecosystems can not survive or exist without it.

Has there been a change in the environment out west over maybe 100-150 years from more of a grassland to forest in many of these areas due to decades of fire suppression?
If this is true would we be better served to thin/remove some forest areas and change them back to grasslands or savanna?


Offline John Mc

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 09:44:59 PM »
While the management of these lands undoubtedly plays a significant role in these fires, it canít be denied that lower rainfall and higher temperatures are a big factor as well
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2018, 06:42:22 AM »
I'm not sure about the rainfall being less than historical levels.  Looking at a historical record for Mendicino, the past 2 years were pretty wet for the area.  That leads to more grass and brush in many areas.  When it dries out, as this year has, you have more fuel for fire.  The Ranch fire was in Mendicino county.

The years of 2010-2011 were also wet years.  That followed by a dry year and an elevated fire season.  From the data I've looked at, the years with higher incidents of fire have followed a few years of elevated rainfall.  Seems to be a connection there.  I would expect it to be a normal cycle.

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Offline RPF2509

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 04:38:22 PM »
A fire update - currently the Carr fire west of Redding is contained and almost out.  The Mendocino complex is now the largest fire in CA history at 400K+ acres.  My bet is it will get to 500K before going out.  It is of a size now that human intervention will do little.  Adjacent to the Carr fire we now have the Hirz fire started by human cause.  Instead of getting it out when small, it was monitored and is now 14K acres.  It will likely burn the lower McCloud canyon and will likely top out at over 100K acres.  It has huge potential to grow fast as it is in mountainous country with few roads.  The Sacramento and McCloud canyons can be wind funnels which will greatly increase the odds of it jumping containment lines.  Understand that most of the fires here started in the lowlands which endure hot summers and historically burned regularly (like once a decade).  Most of the areas where the fires started are oak woodland mixed with grass and brush or shrub fields.  The brush fields in the Mendocino complex go for miles and miles unbroken.  Only recently have the fires moved upslope into timber lands.  For as many people that live in CA there are huge areas that are empty of people and this is where most of the fire are burning.  Sure 1000 houses were lost in Redding but that was in about a day or so during an extreme weather event (100 degree+ heat).  Once the fire came out of the canyon where it was hottest, it calmed down and was able to be contained. Past decades of fire suppression and lack of prescribed burns in the shoulder seasons (spring -fall)has made the situation worse.  I used to prescribe burn quite a bit on private lands but the air quality permit system leaves few open windows to burn safely.  After I was fined by the CA air resources board for violating Air quality standards (one day of smoke in two towns) I decided prescribed burning was not worth if.  We have had unbroken smoke since July 5th with just a few hours here and there of clear air.  Obviously the system is broken and there will need to be action on many fronts to get a handle on the situation.  For now the Hirz fire has the potential to burn many acres of private timberland, the Carr fire burned 40K acres of private timberland which will be salvaged (estimate is 200 MILLION board feet to get before it rots) and replanted.  Untold acres of federal timberland has burned - little if any will be salvaged and replanted with the burned areas revegetating to brush fields (look at the Biscut fire from over a decade ago in southern Oregon for a good example of this).  The brushfields that have already burned will return to brush and will be primed to burn again in a decade or so.  It has taken decades for CA to get where it is with overstocked federal timberlands and over mature wildland brush fields.  It will take decades to get the landscape back to a fire resilient situation.  Don't get me wrong - CA needs fire, but at the proper time and place. July and August are particularly poor times to be burning.  Most of the burns this year are in northern CA but the central Sierras are primed for huge fires with the drought and dead overstocked forests - their turn is coming.  One wet winter won't solve anything -only a massive shift in the way the forests and fire are managed. Even then we are in for lots of summer smoke for decades to come.

Offline BradMarks

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2018, 05:05:22 PM »
RPF2509:  Thanks for the updates!  Brad

Offline charles mann

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2018, 02:07:11 AM »
i think what ole' mouth meant by lack of water, and it is my interpretation only, is, the lack of rain fall, not lack of water to combat the fire/s. lack of rain has set, along with many other factors, the conditions for the wildfires.
 earlier this year, we were on the 416 and burrows fire just north of durango, co. and that fore was started by the ole' steam loco that makes its daily run from silveton to durango and back. we spent many week there and dropped many a 1000s of gallons of water. rumor is once the morons hit colorado, we will be heading west. 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2018, 08:56:19 AM »
rumor is once the morons hit colorado
 

morons ?
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Offline BradMarks

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2018, 11:23:15 AM »
Maybe it was auto correct for monsoons??  Do monsoons happen in Colorado?   Morons happen everywhere :o

Offline John Mc

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2018, 01:23:02 PM »
Maybe it was auto correct for monsoons??  Do monsoons happen in Colorado?   Morons happen everywhere :o
Well, I don't know... if enough morons moved into my area, I might consider leaving as well.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline charles mann

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Re: Wildfires in California
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2018, 02:09:51 PM »
Yes, auto corrected for monsoons. 
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