What is the Truth about
California's Forest Maintenance?
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by Frank Shortt
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During a recent trip to New Mexico my wife, Sharon, noticed forest officials thinning out the forests
of New Mexico. They were removing underbrush, taking out unhealthy sproutlings, and removing dead or dying trees. This effort not
only saves the remaining forest, but also gives healthy trees an opportunity to grow unimpeded. Some states care about their citizens
before a disaster strikes.
Forests in California have not been maintained properly over the past decades.
Sometimes it is lack of manpower. Sometimes it is restrictions by the EPA because of a protected species of one sort or another. Thousands
of homes in California have been burned to the ground because of poor forest maintenance. It has been said that, “an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure!” This is true in many situations.
Fire protection officials have had to face
the fact that green vegetation does burn and most forests are overstocked! Most of our forests in California, the ones that are left,
have 100 to 200 trees per acre. A healthy forest will have about 40 to 60 trees per acre. Thinning out green vegetation reduces fire
danger and frees up resources for the remaining plants and trees to be healthier. It restores their vigor, making them more fire resistant
as well as, infestations of bark beetles and other parasites.
PG&E tries to maintain their power
lines throughout the forested areas of California by cutting fire trails occasionally. This not only provides access to their lines,
but also, makes fire breaks in cases of forest fires. Hunters also use these breaks in the forest to be able to spot game while hunting.
There is such a thing as “controlled burns” that could be conducted in the late fall and winter when
smoke nuisance would be less of a problem. A lot of the huge fires are started by meadows being too dry at the edge of forests. Large
landowners in California should be required by law to keep these meadows mowed down at the approach of fire season. If they are able
to afford large tracts of land, they can surely afford to maintain that land.
One mistake California
is making is by not using minimum security detainees to maintain their forests. This is a ready-made resource of manpower and most
detainees would prefer the outdoors rather than confinement in an institution. Then, whatever happened to the CCC which used to be
part of the California Forestry Department. The federal Government should be working with State Government in order to head off disasters
such as the Carr fire.
I hike the El Dorado National Forest along with my wife on a regular basis when
we go to Grizzly Flat. We have noticed the thickness of underbrush preventing hiking only in areas that have been used by deer and
other animals as they travel to and fro for water and feed. We have also noticed the abundance of too many trees per acre. The world
is on a building spree at present and I am sure that there are loggers who would be more than willing to clear out some of the forests
of the overabundance of trees. State and Federal officials could send representatives to the heavily laden forests, mark the trees
to be harvested, and use the lottery to decide which loggers would reap the forests of unwanted trees. Does this seem to elementary
for government? No, they would rather wait until thousands of acres of beautiful forests are decimated to ashes and then cry for help!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
The fight goes on between the present Administration
in Washington and the California government as to what is best to control fires in California. Maybe if President Trump would clarify
his remarks on twitter it would go a long way in relieving the tension between the two opinions.