Fuel Reduction in Coast Redwood

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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.

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2 comments

  1. Here in Oregon we are having real problems with high intensity fires and longer fire intervals… then the invasives are the first to establish successionally, increase the fine fuels, and another high intensity fire comes at a more frequent rate… it’s a weird cycle and certainly not natural. The invading junipers here also have a tendency to be fire resistant. Out near Prineville you can look at the Crooked River area and see the actual line of encroaching juniper smothering the native sagebrush area. People are slowly getting comfortable with the idea of fire as a management tool but it still seems to scare the city folks šŸ˜‰

    Miss you Nick! and LOVE the pictures and accompanying stories!

  2. You too Morgan. I glad you mentioned the Crooked River, I hadn’t thought of that area for along time. I cant remember what road it is, but one of the bridges that crosses it is amazing. I love that area. Maybe Prineville will have to go into the gin business as a way of dealing with the juniper!

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