At least two agencies have filed criticisms of a draft Environmental Impact Report developed by California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The plan for the California Statewide Vegetation Treatment Program determines how vegetation would be managed to lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires on 38 million acres of state responsibility land. After it is approved, individual thinning, herbicide, or prescribed fire projects would not have to obtain separate approvals under the California Environmental Quality Act.
…For all its length, though, the report is disturbingly vague about what the state proposes to do and where. Many wildfire experts say the study is outdated on the science of fire ecology and treats very different natural landscapes as though they were the same. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the report with serious criticisms, saying among other things that the plan could cause substantial environmental damage. A letter from the National Park Service is downright scathing, slamming the report for numerous inaccuracies, accusing Cal Fire of ignoring important scientific studies and openly questioning whether the plan even meets the legal requirements for this type of EIR.
“If implemented, the proposed program would cause significant, irreversible and unmitigable environmental impacts to natural resources in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on a large scale, while producing few if any of the fire safety benefits stated as goals of the program. As such, it would represent a very poor use of public funds,” wrote Robert S. Taylor Jr., a fire specialist with the Park Service. “I strongly recommend that Cal Fire withdraw the current proposal and produce a new one based on best available science.”
This animated video explains forest management, prescribed burning, fire return interval, and fuel management in 100 seconds.
The video is very well done and gets its point across quite efficiently, however it may be obvious to some that it was produced by an organization like the Oregon Forest Resources Institute which represents forest producers, small woodland owners, forest sector employees, academia, and the general public. The group appears to be similar to the Idaho Forest Products Commission that came up with the “Thin the Threat” bumper sticker last year.
The Southwest Fire Science Consortium has produced a 12-minute video about taking advantage of previously burned areas when managing new fires. Here is the
Consortium’s description of the video:
Over the past two decades the size of wildfires has dramatically increased across the Southwest. These large burned areas have become so common that newer wildfires are burning into and around them. Fire managers increasingly use these previous burns as treatments that either stop or slow fire spread. The interaction of past and current wildfires has important management and ecological consequences.
The video will be useful for anyone who is not aware that the spread of a wildland fire slows when it moves into a previously burned area, or an area with less fuel. The technical aspects of the video are excellent, including the editing, videography, and sound, while the appearance of the subject matter experts is similar to what we saw in another one produced by the Consortium about vegetation mastication.
The state of Nebraska is offering to help forest landowners pay for the costs of reducing the fuel loads on their land. Using state and federal funds, the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) is able to provide eligible forest landowners up to 75 percent cost-share assistance for fuels treatment projects. These programs are currently open to forest landowners in the Pine Ridge and Niobrara Valley areas. Other fuels treatment opportunities exist for Nebraska landowners whose land is adjacent to National Forest land.
In the future fuels treatment assistance programs may spread to communities in other areas if they have completed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
More information is available in a NFS pamphlet (large 2.7MB file).
The video is very well planned and produced, cramming a great deal of information into an 11-minute presentation. The videography is first-rate, the speakers do an excellent job, and the sound, thanks to the use of a remote microphone, is high quality. My only suggestion for improving a very technical video like this is to ask the people that are representing their agency and presented as experts to wear their uniforms, and especially to ditch the coveralls and Hawaiian shirts. It could enhance the credibility and professionalism. Having worked for both the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, it is surprising how different the two agencies are about this. The USFS has virtually no policies that are enforced about how and when to wear their uniform in the field, while the NPS, at least in some parks, goes to the other extreme, even requiring ties for many of their employees as part of the winter uniform.