Rim Fire (CA) Prompts Need for Better Forest Management

Salvage logging has begun on the Rim fire, an early step in a restoration effort that will take many decades, reports The Fresno Bee.

But the task at hand goes far beyond the 250,000 acres of timber and brush that have burned in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. The Rim fire has renewed calls to better manage forests all over the Sierra Nevada so they can resist fire while providing timber, habitat, water and recreation.

“Otherwise, the result will be more Rim fires,” said Steve Brink, a vice president at the California Forestry Association in Sacramento. “And the sad thing is, they will be common up and down the Sierra.”

He spoke  on a tour bus making its way out Cottonwood Road to a portion of the burn near Cherry Lake. It was chartered by the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, which long has promoted logging as a way to thin timber stands dense with fuel. The group often has clashed with environmentalists, but many of the latter agree in general on the need for salvage logging and replanting on much of the burn.

“Nearly everyone is staggered by the magnitude of the fire and by the magnitude of the need,” John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center in Twain Harte, wrote in an email last week.

The fire, the third largest in the state’s history, got national attention because of its Yosemite connection. But what happened has special meaning to San Joaquin Valley residents who value the Sierra as a place to camp and fish, and as a source of water and timber.

The fire is believed to have started from a hunter’s campfire near the Clavey River on Aug. 17. It roared up the brushy canyon slopes and into the timberlands, some of them plantations a few decades old, some of them mature stands. “It was burning in every direction,” Brink said. “It was throwing embers up to a mile. We haven’t seen that kind of fire behavior before.”

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