Fuel Reduction in Coast Redwood
Here are some pics from a project this summer. This property is in the South Fork Eel and less than a mile from where the Canoe Fire was stopped in 2004. That fire burned over 11,000 acres mostly in the State Parks. Many redwood forests are are at a higher fire risk than people think. First of all, it may surprise you to know that the fire return interval in redwoods was 6-15 years. Frequent low intensity fires were very common in redwood forests in part due to indians starting fires, but also the the massive amount of biomass (feuls) redwood and tanoak forests produce annually.
The Canoe Fire was a wake up call for many people who live in the South Fork and the proactive landowner will takes steps to reduce fire risk and make fighting it easier. In this case, the objective was to create a shaded fuel break along the main roads, as well as remove invasive species that had taken over on old log landings and ditches along the road (namely scotch broom). This practice reduces the intensity of fire as it moves into the fuel break making the road itself a potential fire line. It also improves the productivity of the trees near-by which will grow larger crowns, slowing understory growth, and thus reducing the development of ladder fuels within the fuel break.