5 Nov 2009, 10:22pm
The 2009 Fire Season
by admin

Kootenai Foofurb Fire Hydrologic Damages Reported

The Bitterroot National Forest has released a report on the damages to watershed hydrology caused by the Kootenai Creek Foofurb Fire [here].

The USFS let this fire burn because it was allegedly providing resource “benefits”. Instead, the fire blew up, resource damages ensued, and over $2.5 million was eventually spent to suppress it [here].

The Kootenai Creek Fire was ignited by lightning July 12 on the Bitterroot National Forest, 7 miles northwest of Stevensville, Ravalli County, Montana. The fire grew to 780 acres by July 25. A small crew of firefighters were withdrawn on that date after “temporarily securing the SE/SW corners of the fire by utilizing natural barriers and aircraft.”

A series of windstorms in September reactivated the fire and it expanded to over 6,500 acres, threatening private property miles to the east.

The hydrology damages report is [here]. Among the findings: 5,388 acres burned in the 20,121 acre Kootenai-Larson Creek watershed (27%). Of the burned acres, 2,694 burned with moderate to high severity. That amounts to half the burned acres, or 13.4% of the total watershed acres. In the Brooks Face watershed 1,120 acres burned out of the total 1,380 acres (81% of the watershed). Of those, 560 acres burned with moderate to high severity (50% of the burned acres, 41% of the total watershed acres).

The report includes this statement:

Possible watershed responses to this fire are:

1) an initial flush of ash,

2) overland flow and associated rill and gully erosion on steep slopes,

3) rainfall-derived flash floods with above-normal peak flows,

4) rainfall-derived debris flows and associated alluvial fan deposition,

5) mobilization of floatable woody debris during snowmelt and rainfall-derived flash floods and
debris flows, and

6) snowmelt water yield increases due to changes in evapo-transpiration.

Response 1 is most probable the first year after the fire, and has a probability near 100%. Responses 2 through 5 are most probable the first through third years after the fire, and will disappear as grasses and forbs re-grow within the high severity burn areas. Response 6 is likely to occur for decades, but will diminish over time as conifer vegetation regenerates.

The assumption is that conifers will naturally seed into the burned over areas and will grow for decades without being subjected to another severe fire.

That assumption fails to account for the Bitterroot NF Let It Burn program, which is responsible for allowing the fire to inflict the damages in the first place. As long as the Bitterroot NF sits back and watches forest fires burn away in the middle of summer, in the name of “resource benefits”, forest resources (including hydrology and conifers) will continue to be damaged severely.

The Ravalli Republic printed the following story earlier this week:

Report details hydrological impact of Kootenai fire

by WILL MOSS - Ravalli Republic, November 03 2009 [here]

When wildfire burns its way through a forest, it’s often the immediate and obvious effects that garner the most attention: Smoke in the air and homes threatened by flames are at the fore of most people’s concerns.

But for forest managers and landowners, fire’s impacts on the soil, wildlife, water and other resources can be just as important.

In mid-October, the Forest Service conducted a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment on the post-burn impacts of the Kootenai Creek fire.

On Monday, they released a hydrology report detailing the effects the burn will have on watersheds.
“It’s all based on the extent of the fire and its severity, how much of the area burned at high intensity and where those spots are located,” said Bitterroot National Forest Hydrologist Ed Snook, a member of the team that flew over the area last month. …

Snook said the Forest Service will contact landowners to inform them of what to expect. …

According to the report, the probable watershed responses in those areas could put some man-made resources at risk, including forest road crossings in upper Larson Creek, foot and horse trails in Kootenai Creek Canyon and ranch roads or headgates below Brooks Face. …

The report surmises that increased erosion may have an effect on the Kootenai Creek Trail, especially where water bars have burned out or fire debris has plugged runout ditches.

In some places, wood incorporated into the trail tread has burned out, altering trail drainage and increasing erosion potential.

While the increased burn severity on the Brooks Face suggests an elevated potential for surface erosion and gully formation, channels draining the face do not closely approach any residences before they fade away into agricultural lands below.

Residents should avoid crossing flooded ranch roads and be aware they may be stranded in some locations for short periods.

The report made recommendations as to what actions could be taken to reduce any adverse effects.

The recommendations include cleaning culvert outlets on Forest Road 740 in upper Larson Creek, repairing damaged drainage structures and tread on trails before the next projected damaging storm and notifying land owners about possible high flows and increased ash and sediment deposit. …

8 Nov 2009, 5:56pm
by Mary

We know from the yearyly government survey of job satisfaction that even the average joe working with the forest service is totally disgusted with “administrative policy” from on high. A farce is a farce. Destructive activity is destructive activity. When, if ever, are caring people that know, by all that’s right, going to start to start overriding the bogus ideologies and frauds that have been prevailing while there is still any real science to prevail. As we are learning bogus unreal science is inevitably destructive of all real values - what else is it capable of? Kudos to all who seek to enlighten those buried under ever so flowery and unfortunate morass of the prevailing ideological spin.

“Spin” by its very nature cannot enlighten, but only obscure. The unenlightened results of spin,
which divorces nature from the reality of the need for proper human interaction, is devastating not only for the intended victims of spin but also for the perpetrators as well. Reality is reality. Shadow world views not related to the reality of this world are destructive of it.

10 Nov 2009, 9:23am
by Larry H.

The choices left on the Bitterroot National Forest are quite limited. With wildfires and bark beetles severely impacting this forest, there is little left to do, other than chipping the dead trees. They also have vast amounts of areas at higher altitudes that are set aside as “potential lynx habitat”. These areas are the hardest hit, as they are choked with flammable trees that are 90% dead.

There is not much that can be done at this point in time. Maybe it is time to give over this hopeless National Forest to the eco’s to utterly fail with their faith-based Gaia rhetoric? It’s right in the Sierra Club’s backyard.

10 Nov 2009, 10:07am
by Mike

Larry, You are right. If the feds are just going to (continue to) destroy the Bitterroot NF, then maybe it would better if they didn’t own it anymore.

But please, let us not give it over to arsonist wackos who hate America and would inflict their scorched earth policies nationwide if they could.

Instead, return the land to it’s rightful owners, the Lemhi Shoshone [here].



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