16 Apr 2009, 12:14pm
Federal forest policy The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

Trinity Fire Damage Tally

The following letter from the Trinity County Board of Supervisors to the Calif State Legislature lists some of the damage done by the egregious Let It Burn wildfires promulgated by the US Forest Service in Trinity Co. last summer:

From: Trinity County Board of Supervisors
Roger Jaegel, Supervisor District Three

April 14, 2009

To: The Honorable Sam Aanestad
State Capitol, Room 2054
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Aanestad:

Last year Trinity County, California experienced the worst wildfire season on record. From June 20 to near the end of August, 266,157 acres burned in three major complexes. In the last decade over 500,000 acres have burned in Trinity County, more acres than were burned in recorded history. We are committed to compiling the facts about these fires and completing an analysis that will hopefully help us prepare for the next dry lightning event. We know statistically this type of storm tends to occur about once a decade. Some of these facts are best estimates and we will continue to refine this data as time and resources to accomplish the field review and further validation become available.

Trinity County Wildfires of 2008

* The tragic deaths of 10 wildland firefighters
* 266,157 acres burned (about 97% on National Forests)
* Many of our businesses report losses of over 40%
* Suppression costs are over $150,000,000

Health and Safety

* Trinity County communities were under mandatory evacuation orders 15 times
* Over 1,400 homes were evacuated
* Unhealthy and extremely unhealthy air quality alerts were issues for many of our communities for weeks
* Federal standards for pm 2.5 levels were exceeded in many cases by a factor of 10 or greater
* Millions of dead trees and millions of tons of fuel will remain untreated to threaten our communities, resources, and our firefighters for decades to come

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

* Estimate of CO2 equivalents released from the fires equal 12,000,000 metric tons or 2,000,000 vehicle years
* This does not include carbon released from suppression, burned area rehabilitation, or restoration activities
* It also does not include the reduction in carbon sequestration from vegetation conversion

Wildlife and Fisheries

* 122 miles of coho salmon habitat within the fire perimeter
* 486 spotted owl sighting points within the fire perimeter
* 205,716 acres of spotted owl habitat within the fire perimeter


Supervisor District 3

In all more than 650,000 acres (1,000 square miles) of public forest were deliberately burned in Northern California by the USFS last summer, at a suppression cost of over $400 million. Cost-plus-loss damages were in the tens of $billions.

No funds to repair the resource or reimburse the citizenry have been forthcoming. Some $1.5 million in Stimulus funds are allegedly earmarked for fuels management on the Shasta Trinity NF, an amount less than one percent of what was spent purposefully burning that forest last year.

Note: a year ago I sent the following letter to the Trinity County Board of Supervisors warning them that exactly that was in the offing and scheduled to transpire. Unfortunately, they failed to respond in any way (or even acknowledge receipt of the letter), and what happened happened.

April 2, 2008

Dear Commissioners,

The Western Institute for Study of the Environment has submitted comments to the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest (RR-SNF) regarding their adoption of a Wildland Fire Use (WFU) program.

If that program is implemented, another Biscuit Fire will surely occur, possibly as soon as next summer.

The Biscuit Fire burned 500,000 acres of the then Siskiyou NF in 2002. It was the largest fire in recorded Oregon history and destroyed habitat for endangered species, including over 100,000 acres of prime spotted owl habitat (50 known nesting sites were destroyed). …

Allowing wildfires to freely roam the landscape is a terribly destructive idea. Too much is at stake, including forests, watersheds, and wildlife habitat, as well as ranches, farms, homes, and entire communities that may lie in the path of Federal megafires. …

Our culture and society have reached an important juncture in our understanding of our place in the landscape. As human beings we must become the caretakers and fulfill our responsibilities, not abandon our landscapes to catastrophic fire. You need to be involved in landscape-level decisions that will affect the communities you represent. We can help.

W.I.S.E. can provide expert speakers to convey this message to your group or constituency. We have provided this important testimony in regards to U.S. Forest Service policy in Southwest Oregon and Northern California as a first step towards rational forest management. …

Please help us to prevent another Biscuit Fire. Your assistance is needed now. You need to be engaged in this struggle for your sake and for the sake of the environmental legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren. Your constituents will appreciate your leadership in this vitally important effort.

Please contact me for more information about how you can help forestall environmental catastrophe and restore stewardship to our public lands.


Mike Dubrasich



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