In this video, packer Erik Cordtzon of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northern California talks about using the Trinity Alps pack string of mules and horses, one of three pack strings on the forest, to haul cargo in and out of the River Complex of fires.
We appreciate seeing videos like this of firefighters simply talking about their job. It can give the public a better understanding of what they do and what they go through on a daily basis. It’s very easy to do this. One of the keys, however, is to have good audio. An external microphone, as used in this video, is essential — they are even available for smart phones.
If the video is uploaded to YouTube they can be seen by a much, much wider audience than if they are hidden on Drive. And Facebook videos can’t be easily embedded onto other sites.
The U.S. Forest Service had quite a few representatives in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Years Day.
Their entry was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the historic role of packers in supporting wildland firefighters and other backcountry operations, and appreciation of the outstanding contributions made by national forest volunteers.
The all-mule equestrian entry included an entourage of Forest Service Rangers in period uniforms anchored by three mule pack strings. The mule pack strings were guided by California-based U.S. Forest Service packers Michael Morse, Lee Roeser and Ken Graves, who have an average of 37 years of experience each in the saddle.
I did not see the parade, but there is a report that during the live broadcast the announcers had a debate about Smokey’s name — “Smokey Bear”, or “Smokey THE Bear”. Here’s the deal. A song written in 1952 celebrated “Smokey the Bear” and stirred a debate that lasted several decades. To maintain the proper rhythm in the song, the writers added “the” to the name, etching “Smokey the Bear” into the public psyche. But his name always was, and still is, Smokey Bear. Unfortunately the Forest Service fueled the confusion by publishing and distributing the words and music to the song in their fire prevention efforts.
All photos are provided by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Happy Camp Complex of Fires west of Yreka, California is approaching what we have defined as “megafire” status — 100,000 acres of burned forest. As of Thursday night it has blackened 82,956 acres, a number that increases by 4,000 to 12,000 acres daily.
At a cost to date of $47.4 million, almost 3,000 people are assigned to the fire, along with 87 hand crews, 14 helicopters, 127 engines, 23 dozers, 43 water tenders, 29 mules, and 8 horses.
Firefighters are hoping to keep the fire south of the Klamath River and Highway 96 between the communities of Happy Camp and Horse Creek, a goal they have mostly met, however there have been two large spot fires across the highway and the river that have been stopped. One of them was about 0.6 mile long and the other was about a tenth of a mile across.
On Thursday the fire was very active on the east side where it is burning downhill toward Scott River Road in the vicinity of Scott Bar (see the map of the fire above).
The area will remain under a Red Flag Warning through 11 p.m. Saturday due to a combination of strong winds and low relative humidity.
Who knew the U.S. Forest Service has a Remount Depot? The Missoulian has an interesting article about how the agency overwinters 214 horses and mules at a facility 20 miles northwest of Missoula, MT. The mules are used to resupply fire lookout towers, bring supplies to firefighters working on remote lightning-caused fires, and assist with trail maintenance.