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Thread: Prescribed Burns in Forest Lands in Western USA

  1. #11
    Senior Member boss mare's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Isn’t prescribed and controlled burns the latest darling of how to solve the problem of horrific fires out west?

    Good luck with it all.
    My husband has over 41 years as a firefighter and we have both lived in the PNW for all of our lives ( 60 years) Prescribed burns are real thing and are effective if done in a correct manner.

  2. #12
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    If you have excessive fuel loads and ladder fuels piling up in your forests, you will have epic wildfires. The ignition cause will vary, but those areas *will* burn, sooner or later.

    Now, you can rake your forest to reduce the fuel load, or allow natural processes to burn the fuel before it piles up to epic levels, and then the forest will be happy - it evolved to exist with frequent low-intensity burns.

    But if you engage in decades of well-intentioned fire suppression efforts without reducing the fuel load, you are setting yourself up for disaster later.

    My community is typically near the top of the state's list of fire-endangered neighborhoods. In centuries past, small fires swept through here every few years, and there was no major problem. The last big fire we had was in the 1910s.... You can see the burn marks on the old growth trees that are within easy walking distance of my house. Well, if you could walk through the forest, which is head-high with thickets of downed material, fuel....

    I just spent about $15k "raking" the forest around my home to make the space more survivable.

  3. #13
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boss mare View Post
    My husband has over 41 years as a firefighter and we have both lived in the PNW for all of our lives ( 60 years) Prescribed burns are real thing and are effective if done in a correct manner.
    I agree. And portraying controlled burns as "the latest darling" is a bit misinformed.

  4. #14
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    I agree. And portraying controlled burns as "the latest darling" is a bit misinformed.
    I’m sure it’s always been an option for those who are very knowledgeable in the field. That is not the general populace, especially those here in flyover land where we get decent (tho that is changing) rainfall. In other words, me! And the originator of this thread.but importantly, mainstream media.

    I first heard about it several years ago on NPR and they presented it as gee whiz look what is new in the world of major fire control.

    I don’t see how you can argue that all of a sudden (recent years) Smokey Bear’s “prevent forest fires” could be seen as outdated.

  5. #15
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    I don’t see how you can argue that all of a sudden (recent years) Smokey Bear’s “prevent forest fires” could be seen as outdated.
    Well, it's been outdated since the 1980s really. At least in the field.

  6. #16
    Senior Member boss mare's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    If you have excessive fuel loads and ladder fuels piling up in your forests, you will have epic wildfires. The ignition cause will vary, but those areas *will* burn, sooner or later.

    Now, you can rake your forest to reduce the fuel load, or allow natural processes to burn the fuel before it piles up to epic levels, and then the forest will be happy - it evolved to exist with frequent low-intensity burns.

    But if you engage in decades of well-intentioned fire suppression efforts without reducing the fuel load, you are setting yourself up for disaster later.

    My community is typically near the top of the state's list of fire-endangered neighborhoods. In centuries past, small fires swept through here every few years, and there was no major problem. The last big fire we had was in the 1910s.... You can see the burn marks on the old growth trees that are within easy walking distance of my house. Well, if you could walk through the forest, which is head-high with thickets of downed material, fuel....

    I just spent about $15k "raking" the forest around my home to make the space more survivable.
    I worked for a Dentist who sold his practice here in SW Washington . He and his family moved to Paradise CA Two weeks later. they lost everything except the clothes on their back, the dog and the one car that they evacuated in. This was their house, their belongings , his new dental practice, their other car .... Everything.

    Our property had alot of Douglas firs. huge huge ones. We ended up logging them due to a disease that was making them die from the top down. I am glad that we did that. In 2019 and in 2020 there was a huge fire in the Capital Forest area. There are alot of horse and livestock in that area. I ended up taking in some of the horses while several of my friends where helping trailer out the animals One place in particular is a horse show barn with over 40 horses in it

  7. #17
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Regarding human activities causing wildfires, in California that also includes not maintaining vegetation near electric lines. Almost every year PG&E is found responsible for causing at least one or two significant fires when their electric lines spark fires in trees that have grown up onto them. Their solution, shut down power all over the place every time it's hot and windy. Which means we either need to live without power, potentially for days on end, or we need a backup plan. I'm currently in the process of putting together a combination of a modest sized generator and some amount of batteries, and the accompanying battery charger, power inverter, long extension cords, etc. Woohoo, what fun.

    And apparently raking forests really IS a thing, at least on a small scale. The wilderness park behind our complex has big old growth oak trees further up the hill, but the first 50 feet or so, which the HOA owns, is just wild grass. Once rain season ended and it stopped growing the HOA gardners cut it down. At the last HOA board meeting a couple weeks ago it was discussed that the dead, mowed wildgrass is a major fire hazard. Now the gardeners will be coming back to rake and remove it.

    We're not in remote wilderness, but the HOA still spent 2/3 of the meeting discussing fire prep, literally down to the nitty gritty of 'there are still 3 juniper trees in the complex and they need to be removed due to extreme flammability'

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    Donít some tree and plant species require the occasional fire for their reproductive cycle?

  9. #19
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    Don’t some tree and plant species require the occasional fire for their reproductive cycle?
    Yes. I recall after the big yellowstone fire back in the 80's the scientists being super excited that certain species of tree were being found there afterwards which had not been around for a long time because there hadn't been any fires in decades.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    Don’t some tree and plant species require the occasional fire for their reproductive cycle?
    Have a sibling who is a long-time resident in CA and said there are also plants that are sort of "fire resistant"? Some sort of ground cover type plants, I think, that they put in some areas of their property. Sorry, don't know any details beyond that, but found it fascinating to think there were such things.
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