Retardant use can increase cheatgrass?

Cheat Grass
A year after the Fourth of July fire on Mount Jumbo, a long green line of cheatgrass is visible where fire retardant was dropped. The red slurry retardant allows some exotic weeds to replace native grasslands, according to preliminary results of a study by Salish Kootenai College and the University of Montana. Photo by JED LITTLE

It seems that every few years another issue about the use of aerial fire retardant appears. The latest is that the nitrogen and phosphorous in the retardant produce a condition that encourages cheatgrass, while it has little effect on native grasses.

The photo from the Missoulian apparently shows green strips of cheatgrass growing in the areas where air tankers dropped retardant on on a fire on Mount Jumbo near Missoula on July 4, 2006.

From a story in the Missoulian:
“According to preliminary results, the retardant’s fertilizerlike nutrients significantly increased cheatgrass and tumbleweed mustard, both exotic annual species, at the expense of native perennial grasses on the mountainside.

The invaders benefit from the jolt of nitrogen and phosphorous in the slurry, which native and exotic perennials largely ignore because they are accustomed to nutrient-poor soils.

Cheatgrass and tumbleweed mustard didn’t spread where the fire burned alone, but they exploded in areas that were burned and hit with retardant, the study found.

The two invaders have spread from 51 percent to 88 percent on Mount Jumbo since the retardant was dropped, although two perennial invaders, spotted knapweed and Dalmation toadflax, decreased.

The Fourth of July fire burned about 320 acres and fire retardant was dropped on about 12 acres of Mount Jumbo, where noxious weeds have become widespread over the past 20 years.

The two-year study, which is to be completed next spring, is being conducted by Besaw and Giles Thelan, a research specialist at UM’s plant ecology laboratory.”

Marc Mullenix’s obituary

Here is the text of the Obituary for Marc Mullenix, Division Chief of Fairmount Fire Protection District, as published in the Cortez Journal:

Marc Robert Mullenix
Memorial services for Mancos resident Marc Robert Mullenix will be held at noon Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo.

Marc was born Sept. 16, 1957, in Downey, Calif., the son of Robert and Charmaine (Sterling) Mullenix. He passed away Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, in Mancos at the age of 50.

Surviving Marc are his wife, Shawna Mullenix of Mancos; his daughter, Nikki Mullenix of Longmont, Colo.; his mother, Charmaine Mullenix of Santa Clarita, Calif.; and his brother, Norm Mullenix of Prescott, Ariz.

Marc was preceded in death by his father.

Memorial contributions can be made in Marc’s name at the Durango branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

Arrangements are being made through Ertel Funeral Home. For further information or to send condolences, log on to www.ertelfuneralhome.com and click on the obituary section.

Earlier we posted this information about the funeral services:

The funeral services for Marc Mullenix, who passed away on Monday, will be held February 6 at noon at:

Faith Bible Chapel
6250 Wright St.
Arvado, Colorado

Apparatus staging will begin at 1030 at the Faith Bible Chapel. Departments wishing to bring apparatus should contact Lt. Rick Goodman at 303-435-9411

A memorial fund is being established, the “Marc Mullenix Life Challenge Foundation”. Details will be posted when they become available.

Flowers may be sent to:

Fairmount Fire
4755 Isabell Road
Golden, CO 80403
303-279-2928

California proposes insurance fee for fire

Governor Arnold SchwarzeneggerCalifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his state of the state address last month, proposed a 1.25% tax on property insurance, which would generate $125 million a year for CalFire. With the state facing a $14 billion deficit, the additional funds would be used to pay for 121 new engines, 11 more helicopters, and to increase the staffing on state engines from 3 to 4.

Some of the new engines would be placed at municipal fire departments, using the Office of Emergency Services model, where they would be maintained by the department, used as local backup, and be staffed and sent statewide if needed for large fires.

The insurance fee, amounting to about $10 to $12 per homeowner, would be charged to every insurance policy whether they lived in an urban setting in downtown Los Angeles, or in the brush covered hills east of San Diego. The urban residents would benefit very little from additional wildland fire suppression capability, while the those living in mansions above Malibu would sleep more comfortably.

On October 21 when a fire was burning through the hills outside Malibu, a well-dressed woman near the beach was interviewed on live TV. She owned property which was being threatened by the fire. She said that she had just talked with her son on his cell phone who was on the roof of their gym spraying water with a garden hose. He told her that he thought the main house, the guest house, and the gym would all be safe from the fire.

The question is, should she pay the same wildland fire protection tax as a resident of downtown LA?

Services for Marc Mullenix planned

The final services for Marc Mullenix, who passed away on Monday, will be held February 6 at noon at:

Faith Bible Chapel
6250 Wright St.
Arvado, Colorado

Apparatus staging will begin at 1030 at the Faith Bible Chapel. Departments wishing to bring apparatus should contact Lt. Rick Goodman at 303-435-9411

A memorial fund is being established, the “Marc Mullenix Life Challenge Foundation”. Details will be posted when they become available.

Flowers may be sent to:

Fairmount Fire
4755 Isabell Road
Golden, CO 80403
303-279-2928

Texas Governor Issues Disaster Proclamation for Fires

Texas fire map
The AP reports:

“Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster proclamation for more than half the counties in Texas on Wednesday because of wildfires that have already destroyed at least two dozen buildings and could do more damage later this week.”

The Texas State Operations Center in a Jan. 30 Situation Report said:

“To provide an effective response for fire suppression operations, several actions have been taken. The State Operations Center (SOC) has activated 8 aircraft from the Texas Military Forces. The Texas Forest Service (TFS) is deploying ground assets to threatened areas. The Texas Department of Transportation is providing fuel for fire fighting apparatus, a maintainer, a dozer, 21 other vehicles, 29 personnel, and 2 portable dynamic message signs.”

It’s interesting, that as this is written, the web sites for the Geographic Area Coordination Centers for the Southwest and Southern Areas are down. Update: the sites are working again.

Marc Mullenix- RIP

Marc Mullenix
Marc Mullenix

Marc Mullenix passed away last night. Last year he was a Type 1 Incident Commander trainee on Kim Martin’s Incident Management Team in the Rocky Mountain Geographic Area. Some of his past jobs included Wildland Fire Division Chief for the Boulder Fire Department, Fire Management Officer for Mesa Verde National Park, and Fairmont Fire Protection District, all in Colorado.

We will post more information after funeral services have been planned.

Marc Mullenix–rest in peace.