A reply to Ken Baldwin’s “Surface fuels, climate driving wildfires” letter of Sept. 30.
Great letter Ken. Surface fuels and climate sure are responsible for so many of our fires. And because “[r]educing these fuels produces little or no commercial timber volume” there is little effort to clean up the forests, except along a few roadways. The expense of fuel reduction, because it is so labor intensive, makes it seem almost impossible.
It seems we must look for ways to make fuel removal cost effective. How can local communities and local governments help the fuels become products that are necessary and useful for everyday lives? As Ken notes it is, “surface fuels, shrubs tree seedlings and saplings, dead limbs, and logs, as well as dead trees and dense pole-sized trees, that are the most hazardous fuels.”
Beginning in the 1990s at the state government level* there was an attempt to organize 26 management agencies that were responsible for our natural resources so that they could get along with each other. It was called The Strategy to Maintain Biological Diversity. When the strategy came to Trinity County and held its first public meetings Trinity people insisted that they be included.
Out of the government Strategy to Maintain Biological Diversity groups like the Hayfork Watershed and Training Center and more emerged. This might be the time for local resource conservation groups to combine efforts and produce feasibility studies for how the fuels can become products like building materials, soils, value added wood products, essential oils for medicines, insecticides, fertilizers, culinary spices, cosmetic products, aroma therapeutics, dies, tannins, perfumes, resins for plastics, furniture, pellets for wood stoves, methane from fuels composting, suppressed fir flooring, pre-cut log cabins and buildings.
Watershed communities could have small wood mills for making lumber for the community. There is an initiative which has been sitting in the Planning Commission for many months which would permit lumber from local trees, esp., overstocked, suppressed firs which need thinning, to be used for building local structures. There is general support on all sides for the adoption of the K Class Rural Building Code. It has already been adopted in Humboldt and Mendocino counties. Please, supervisors, look at this and insist that the Planning Commission move on it. And residents should call their supervisors and the Planning Commission and urge them to move on it.
Can you imagine using our own trees to build our own homes and reducing the threat of forest fires at the same time? This is an example of fuels becoming products to help cover the costs of cleaning up the woods so fire ecology can be restored. I hope Dennis Martinez will explain why the indigenous practice of fire ecology is so important to restore.
*It took about 20 years for the grassroots movements, beginning with bioregionalism in 1972 and later environmentalism, to reach government levels.