Massive Firefighting Project Ignores Scientific Warnings
Cal Fire outlined plans for massive fire defense projects today that focus on clearing fuel and thinning stands of trees over thousands of miles of California forests and brush land. According to the report released today Cal Fire identified 35 priority projects that can help reduce fire risk for over 200 communities. Plans include removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing, creation of fuel breaks and community defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors.
Environmental experts warn that logging and thinning may not be a panacea for wildfire. Climate scientists observe that the increasingly large fires across the west are the result of extreme weather conditions: drought, high temperatures, low humidity, and most critically, high winds. High winds blow fire through thinned stands and transport embers far beyond a fires front. Fuel reduction and clearing are easily circumvented by airborne embers. If standing fuel was the problem, massive fires would occur in the Olympic Peninsula and forests of Southeast Alaska, the largest forest biomass on earth. These places seldom burn because the cool, damp climate does not support large fires.
New Fire Reality
The forest around Paradise had two previous fires in the past 10 years, much of the private land had been clear cut and the Forest Service performed continuous hazardous fuel reduction projects. None of these slowed the fire driven by 80-mph winds, and there is evidence the opening of the landscape and promotion of more shrubs and grasses increased the rate of fire spread.