Burning impact: What happens after the fire

By Anette McGee Rasch for the Mail Tribune, October 14, 2018

Only 2 percent of the land affected by the 211,801-acre Klondike and Taylor Creek fires on the Wild Rivers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts burned at high severity; an additional 75 percent burned at “low” or “very low” severities — or remained “unburned,” according to a recent U.S. Forest Service assessment. About 20 percent burned at medium severity.

This was determined by Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team members — soil scientists, hydrologists and other Forest Service specialists — who combined ground observations with information from aerial reconnaissance flights and satellite-generated images to produce a soil burn severity map that will now be utilized to create an action plan.

The BAER team just wrapped up a two-week project to identify “imminent post-wildfire threats to human life, safety, property, and also, critical natural or cultural resources on Forest Service lands,” according to public information officer Andy Lyon.

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Fire and Smoke: Where thinning is winning

By Mark Freeman for the Mail Tribune, October 10, 2018

Editor's note: This is Part 5 of a five-day series on devastating wildfires and their effects on Southern Oregon done in partnership with KTVL Channel 10. Also see Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

ASHLAND — More than 3,000 lightning bolts all itching to pick a wildfire fight came crashing into Southern Oregon July 15, yet one of those bolts bound for the Ashland watershed never stood a chance.

With great promise, it smashed into a massive 300-plus-year-old Ponderosa pine that rises like a sentry atop Skyline Ridge, which separates the Ashland and Talent watersheds. Scars show the electricity spiraled around the tree three times, blowing off shards of bark, before it unleashed its fiery fury at the tree’s base.

And that was it.

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Scientists say logging forests won't reduce wildfire risk

By Annette McGee Rasch for The Mail Tribune, published September 21, 2018

A group of environmental scientists have written a letter to Congress advising that efforts to control wildfires should focus on reducing fire hazards near communities, homes and roads and not on logging larger, fire-resistant trees deeper in the forest.

More than 200 scientists with backgrounds in areas such as wildfire ecology and natural resource management recently sent the letter to Congress urging the removal of pro-logging amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s hard for most policymakers to ignore science from so many experts when they explain why the logging provisions would harm forests and worsen wildfire conditions in the West while doing nothing to protect communities,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with Geos Institute, which focuses on climate change and other environmental issues.

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Beyond smoke and mirrors

By Dominick DellaSala; Originally published in the Ashland Daily Tidings, August 29, 2018

Just about every day someone has a quick-fix logging “solution” and scapegoat to blame for the growing wildfire problem caused by years of climate neglect and poor planning. Meanwhile, smoke and fires are damaging our local economy, forcing home evacuations and causing tragic loss of life. Everyone wants to do something. So, what do we know about wildfires and is there a simple solution, given fires are not going away, no matter how hard we try?

Climate change plus industrial logging plus human-caused fire ignitions equal fire increases

Since the 1980s, wildfire acres have been increasing, although much fewer acres burn now compared to historic times. The main culprit — dinosaur carbon used to run our cars, homes and factories is conspiring climatically with carbon released from deforestation. The consequence — the hotter/drier it gets, the more fires we see.

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