Re: CA Fires - opinion from a tree farmer

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Posted by MichaelM in MI [] on Friday, September 11, 2020 at 16:02:59 :

In Reply to: Re: CA Fires posted by Keith in Washington [] on Friday, September 11, 2020 at 14:39:10 :

My family has had a lumber tree farm in Western Montana for 50 years. The following is from my experience and from my father, who was a PhD Silviculturist for the timber companies and used our property as a living laboratory.

I agree with your comments and wish to add some additional information.

The biggest issue isn't so much the random deadfall on the ground or the beetle killed standing trees. The prime issue is your ladder fuels. The goal is to allow the fire to continue along the ground consuming and converting the deadfall back into nutrients in the soil so it doesn't build up. The problem occurs when the fire jumps from the ground to the canopy. At that point it's all over.

We have taken advantage of state grants in the past that focused on de-limbing healthy trees up to 8-10' off the ground in conjunction with clearing live brush. If you can maintain that height devoid of fuel, there is little risk to the trees.

We have also gathered slash from our thinning operations and burned during the wettest part of the winter. Alternatively, allowing machinery to "trample" it into the forest floor is an acceptable (and much less expensive) alternative.

As for the dead standing wood, it's somewhat a moot point. When the fire hits the canopy, it's all over.

Our family agrees with you on the lack of management of Federal lands. The failure to thin or manage ladder fuels along with intense fire suppression has kicked the can down the road to what we see today - fuel laden forests.

As far as property protection goes, no trees for 100' and metal roofs are the way to go. However, no trees around your house is ugly and not attractive. It's a real balancing act.


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