As California Burns, Rural County Representatives of California Implores Legislature to Action on Wildfire

This is a press release from the Rural County Representatives of California:

SACRAMENTO, CA – August 8, 2018 – In a four-page letter issued this week, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) implored the California Legislature and its Wildfire Preparedness & Response Legislative Conference Committee (Committee) to take much needed action in order to prevent and minimize future catastrophic wildfires.  While the appropriate urgency has yet to be given to increasing the pace and scale of managing and restoring both state and federal forest lands within California’s borders, the Legislature now has a unique opportunity to impact future wildfires by implementing real solutions that will help prevent loss of lives, destruction of property, and profound emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.

Formed by Governor Jerry Brown and Legislative Leaders earlier this summer, the Committee was initially established to address wildfire preparedness and response.  In recent weeks, however, the Committee has focused its efforts on utility issues, circumventing the real root cause of the wildfire problems continually plaguing the state – inadequate forest management practices.

“Wildfire risk is no longer just a concern in remote, rural areas, but is becoming a wider public safety concern as the wildland urban interface spreads over larger areas of the state due to climate change and the lingering impacts of the recent five-year drought,” said Rex Bohn, RCRC Chair and Humboldt County Supervisor.  “RCRC has long advocated for an advancement in California’s forest management practices as the true solution to California’s wildland fire problem.”

In the letter, RCRC offers three recommendations as a starting point for the Committee’s consideration: (1) Expanding partnerships with federal land managers, (2) Streamlining permitting and regulatory processes, and (3) Promoting wood products utilization.  The letter can be accessed here.

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17 comments

  • Every inmate in every california prison ought to be in the forest this coming winter, clearing brush.

  • At the same time the Water Board is making it more difficult for rural landowners to store water.

    I remember back in the early days of CAMP the CDF requested that CAMP personnel stop cutting water lines from tanks and ponds so that CDF would have extra available water to help with fire suppression.

    Cal Fire appears to be very quiet regarding the subject of water storage.

    • That’s not a problem here. We’ve got excess water supply and plenty of water storage since the pulp mill is gone. Water storage is more a North/Central Valley problem due to all the irrigation used for agriculture. Hence all the fuss about building up the Lake Shasta dam.

  • Humboldt Original

    Sprawling rural development that causes more points of ignition in rural wild areas is the true cause of this catastrophe. Every generator, vehicle, greenhouse full of 1000 watt bulbs, fuel tank, or other sustained commercial presence in rural Wild areas is a potential fire risk.

    Forest management can play a role, however peer reviewed, published scientific articles consistently show that clearcut forests, regenerating in dense thickets of young conifers, will burn hotter and more severe. Carefully planned forest management that focuses on retaining large, old fire resistant trees, and maintaining shade could have some benefits.

    Clearcutting and conifer plantations will result in more severe fires. Building out into rural wild areas will result in more fire starts.

    The solution is to limit sprawling rural development through appropriate zoning and building codes, manage and educate people about fire ignitions, and to restore older, fire resistant forests through restoration, not clearcuts.

    • did you do any research on the causes of wildfires in rural areas before making your comment? lightning, power line arcing and arson are the main causes.

      • During the heyday of the indoor boom, any local volunteer firefighter would corroborate that most local fires were due to those scenes, often from sketchy wiring. Vegetation maintenance near power lines is a big problem that needs to be addressed. After last October’s carnage, PG&E is getting pressured to improve. Lightning is less frequent on the coast than inland, but a “good” storm does often initiate multiple ignitions. Arson is less a problem outside of Hoopa and the Yurok reservation (the latter seemingly timed to coincide with cannabis enforcement).
        Any fire professional will attest that the majority of California wildfires are caused by people (intentional or otherwise) rather than lightning.

        • I don’t consider Arcata and McKinleyville rural. I have researched most wildfires in CA because I live in the forest. most remote wildfires are caused by lightning, most non-rural wildfires are caused by idiots or electrical arcs. pushing propaganda is also an idiot thing to do. where I live burned once, the cause was an idiot in 1946. luckily its been drippy lately. when was the last time an indoor grow caused a wildfire? never. when was a wildfire caused by a logging operation felling trees? last year. before that it was the year before.

        • did it cause a wildfire? you claim it is the true cause. did you even google how wildfires start? rural living is nothing new. these fires are. Europe is seeing the same right now. this is global warming compounded by human ignorance.

    • Good points, Mr. Original – but regardless of zoning and building codes modification, we’ve got a real problem in real time now. There are steps we who are here now can take on our own. I know I’ve said this before on this site but it bears repeating here.
      The vast majority of burned homes ignite from windblown embers landing in a “receptive fuelbed,” or vulnerable spot(s), not from a wall of flames. Proper defensible space will preclude the likelihood of a wall of flame reaching the house which allows firefighters to EVEN CONSIDER defending the home. It will also allow them to stick with the defense longer when things get crunchy. Windblown embers can travel up to 2 miles in extreme conditions, so defensible space will not prevent them from landing on the house. That’s where the fire hardening comes in. Survey for Achilles’ heels, and mitigate them. Address this and improve forest management practices and we’ll have gone a long way towards improving the situation.
      There are many publications about defensible space, and several on fire hardened homes. These are my favorites for each topic, for their comprehensiveness and clarity:
      https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8393.pdf

      https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/4776
      Ironically, the latter was written for the Sonoma area that burned in October, and warned of what recently occurred.
      I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility. I also believe that if people are going to build in wildfire environments, it is incumbent upon them to take steps to engineer their buildings to be resilient to wildfire, much less simply wise. I agree that there are important steps the government can and should take. But the information that empowers people that live in a wildfire environment (i.e. – the West) to take responsibility and prep themselves to withstand the inevitable threat exists. In addition, the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council has sponsored the FLASH program which subsidizes (it’s a cost-share program, not a grant; but it’s a significant aid) defensible space work in the county. This has been quite popular and successful. Calfire and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (part of the USDA) have similar programs.

  • Aka RED TAPE

  • What is one supposed to do if they are land neighbors with State Parks?

    Does the State Park ever remove fuels from near private homes that are close to their boundary?

    Fire guys come for the annual inspection down here and tell me there is too much brush and trees close to my house and outbuildings. I tell them that is State Park and they have never come done a thing jn the 22 years I’ve lived here. Fire guys say, oh state park, nevermind.

  • and one of the few places that are not losing homes to wildfires..small mom and pop’s are losing them to our “representatives” ..while they ignor the huge mega-grows..bulldozing and plundering every perimeter of our once quiet homesteads…they target small back to the landers” to level the playing field”..no..bulldoze the locals for the out of town capitalists with no regard for our homes , roads,creeks,or community..the New Citizen$$$ are their new cash clientele..love to my neighbors Ron

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