A film: “The Fire Next Time”

The producer describes this film:

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“In this 13-minute film, filmmakers Stephen Most and Kevin White examine how problematic policies, fuel build-up, and climate change have endangered America’s forests. When the Rim Fire burned 256,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park in 2013, it exposed the impacts that high intensity wildfires are having on watersheds, wildlife, and carbon storage. It also forged a coalition of environmentalists, loggers, scientists, officials, and land managers who are responding to this megafire and recognize the need to forestall the next one. “The Fire Next Time” is a precursor to Filmmakers Collaborative’s feaure-length work-in-progress, “MEGAFIRE at the Rim of the World.” For more information, visit megafirefilm.org.”

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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8 thoughts on “A film: “The Fire Next Time””

  1. 13 minutes that could have been forged into workable plans in the last 60 plus years.

    Too bad it WILL take another 50 to 100 years to correct even if funding levels are incrementally raised by Congress

    Alot of 14 hour duty days ahead…..I would say…..

  2. I work in a support position on Calif. wildfires. On the Rim Fire (2013), French Fire (2014) and King Fire (2014), one of the first things to catch my eye was the loss of merchantable timber from fire. I’m thinking Calif. is derelict in not logging this timber before it is destroyed. So many lumber mills have been shut down that salvage logging often requires a 200 mi.+ one way trip to an operating saw mill. This is certainly not economic feasibility. Isn’t logging capable of providing a billion dollar industry to Calif? I’m glad to see the various agencies and organizations gather on the consequences of the Rim Fire, but 50+ years of severe logging restrictions puts any current plans 50 years behind the curve. Government funding and forest improvement crews, if arranged for, will be exponentially overwhelmed due to the acreage that has been locked into litigation. So much timber under protection will rot and fall to the ground before a 2×4 is milled from it. This is what is a contributing factor to the fuel load per acre that feeds flames, like on the Rim Fire.

    1. I worked on post burn analysis and ‘recovery projects’ on several large burns, including the Biscuit Fire, claimed to be the largest fire in Oregon history. I don’t like to see merch timber going to waste. Salvage makes good returns when you are picking up volume from within a couple tree lengths of a road. But once you get away from the established transportation system, the economics of salvage logging do not work. You are just taking money out of the taxpayers pocket and giving it to the purchaser.

  3. Well said, Bill

    You have id’d the merchantable timber and probably industry has too

    But I am sure someone, someway, somehow would jam up the process of harvesting downed in other Natl Forest due to “interests” and “beliefs” that would state that available timber is somehow improving the environment and forest ecosystem.

    Those long held beliefs are what are getting us into trouble with the upcoming megafires….but hey all that good forestry education in the last 50 yrs has been put aside for others political interests rather than already established science other than climate change

  4. Good stuff. But stop blaming smokey. Wildfire prevention is important. The lack of good forest management did this. There was too much harvest in the early 20th century, then none in the end of it. Markets and woods workers are gone. Not just because of the housing bubble. Environmental restrictions swung too far. Germany and Sweden, the creators of silviculture, have maintained and excellent sustainable forest system for generations. We exported our evil timber harvesting to other countries. Most children believe cutting any tree is bad due to an aggressive anti-harvest environmental message that is in every part of our culture. Now we have few tools (loggers, mills, markets, workers) to address an enormous area that we now realize can not be managed through preservation. Smokey didn’t do this.

  5. The Rim fire was not properly, aggressively & quickly initially attacked. Like so many other fires the lack of understanding the potential of all wildfire starts, to many fire management personnel take a lackadaisical attitude to initial attack and the importance of hit hard hit fast hit aggressively. The Rim Fire was allowed to burn for 72 hours with only air drops used. The Yarnell Hill Fire was allowed to smolder & burn for 18 hours and then only a 10 man inmate crew assigned the next morning at 11am to suppress it. More incidents in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada & Arizona over the last 20 years can be cited.

  6. Mr. Wrench is on target with why fires escape. After five decades in the business from the air and on the ground there seems to be a time void starting with the second day burning period staffing and attack. Personnel from the initial and extended attack are tired and completely exhausted. The second days burning period team (resources) are attempting to make a plan or still in travel. Many times late into the morning of the second day nothing is getting accomplished. This includes getting the aircraft up to start delivering water/retardant. How often have we heard “the helicopters and tankers need to be working the fire by 0800”. (conditions permitting) How many times has this been accomplished during the morning of the second period? The answer is seldom!

  7. I favor a pragmatic policy that I call the “one percent solution”. We’ll do fuel reduction, thinning & vegetation management on one acre in every section (640) acres with follow up every 20 years, on Federally owned and administered land. This will create an island of green that serves as a seed bank and Noah’s Ark for insects, reptiles and small mammals when a wildfire blows through. The other 639 acres we’ll toss to the military industrial complex and toast. There is a huge backlog of work to be done. It will be a never ending task. We can summon the on going political will and the financial resources to accomplish the task. We must start now. …. Your comments and criticisms re: the script of “The Cannonball Express” are welcome. We are currently seeking funding for an El Dorado County version of the video in the wake of the King Fire from (the County citizen’s advisory group) The Fish & Game Commission and other public and private sources. A County buy-in (for even a token amount) is crucial to starting the funding stream. Wish us luck!

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