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#191732 - 08/28/15 03:26 PM Fire
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I've been spending too much time sitting here at the computer watching (via the maps on inciweb) my favorite wilderness areas burn to cinders. Some examples: The rugged Entiat River valley in north central WA, home of 700-year-old rare Alpine (Lyall's) larch trees and one of the great places for an autumn pilgrimage to see its needles turn golden. That fire (Wolverine) has the potential to spread to much of the rest of the Glacier Peak Wilderness east of the Cascade Crest, especially with extremely high winds (and not enough rain) forecast for this weekend's storm. The Wenaha/Tucannon Wilderness in SE WA, NW OR, favorite place for early season hikes. The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in eastern OR. The Mt. Adams Wilderness area in SW WA. These are all mammoth mega-fires that started with lightning strikes in rugged wilderness and then blew up to menace homes, livelihoods and lives (three firefighters lost already). These fires have far outrun the assets available to contain them.

What I'd like to do here is to open the whole area of western wildfires up for dscussion. Hopefully we can do this in a calm, logical manner, although, as pointed out, it's difficult when your favorite places are going up in smoke.

Have at it, folks!


Edited by OregonMouse (08/28/15 03:28 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#191744 - 08/29/15 03:18 PM Re: Fire [Re: OregonMouse]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
I am not optimistic. frown

In my reading, it appears to me that climate change has already progressed well beyond the point where we can avoid a future filled with ever worse droughts and floods, and stronger winter storms with higher winds that blow down more trees. There also seems to be no political will in the upper reaches of our government to take the sort of drastic steps that would be required to restructure our economy away from fossil fuels.

So, to my mind, it's not a question of whether the forests will burn, but how destructive those fires will be. The only way I can see to save our western forests from ever larger and more destructive wildfires would be a massive program of selective thinning and controlled burning, so that what gets burned is under better control and the destruction can be mitigated as much as possible.

However, as long as the Forest Service is spending $1 billion a year on fighting wildfires (the figure I heard on the radio yesterday) there's not going to be money in their budget for anything else, let alone a massive new program. And given the current politics in our Congress, there's not a snowball's chance this will change for the better in time to avoid far worse outcomes than we've seen so far.

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#191775 - 09/02/15 01:21 PM Re: Fire [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Just a quick one here in hopes of stimulating more discussion:

Many folks are blaming the accumulation of fuels from 100 years of fire suppression for the big fires, and say that fires (at least when lightning-caused) are natural and should be allowed to burn. However, I've seen many of those same folks screaming because their favorite wilderness areas have burned up.

I'm tempted to join them except that I know that most of the big fires, while they were only a few acres, were visited by firefighting teams who found the terrain too hazardous for them to work safely. Despite what many think, using aerial assets to dump retardant or water is only a way to slow fires down so they can be attacked on the ground. Too much burns underground through duff and roots and then bursts into flame weeks later--I've seen this myself--for water or retardant applied to the surface to zap a fire by itself.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#191781 - 09/04/15 04:00 PM Re: Fire [Re: OregonMouse]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
It's really pretty heartbreaking to think about this.

Both Oregon and Washington are places where I'd love to live and, naturally, the hiking/backpacking opportunities are why.

All we can do now is see what the el Nino brings. Hopefully it will bring lots of water slowly and gently.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#191784 - 09/06/15 05:08 PM Re: Fire [Re: billstephenson]
tramp Offline
member

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 66
Loc: WV
Sad but all a part of the life cycle. It will come back in it's own time.

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#191955 - 09/21/15 05:07 PM Re: Fire [Re: tramp]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
When we overpopulate, and actually cause fires, I find it hard to just say "part of the life cycle". Not only do I see the devastation, I am horrified about the amount of carbon spewed into the atmosphere, which worsens the problem. Add to that the incredible loss of wildlife habitat.

Smoke has been following me all over this summer. I am sick of it. I want rain, rain, and more rain!




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#191956 - 09/21/15 05:10 PM Re: Fire [Re: wandering_daisy]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
As far as it will "come back in its own time" - I do not entirely agree. The climate now is not the same as the climate when the burned forests were established. Here in California, when a foothill forest burns, all that comes back is brush and manzanita.


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#192530 - 11/15/15 09:10 PM Re: Fire [Re: OregonMouse]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 235
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
There are more than 7 billion people on Earth now, and roughly one in eight of us doesn't have enough to eat. The question of how many people the Earth can support is a long-standing one that becomes more intense as the world's population—and our use of natural resources—keeps booming. In 1798 a mathematical explanation by Mr. Malthus explained how it works in theory, and it seems now he was right.
_________________________
Jim M

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#192565 - 11/22/15 10:19 PM Re: Fire [Re: Jim M]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1343
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Colin Fletcher made the same argument in all of his Complete Walker books: the earth has a "carrying capacity" and we may have already exceeded it. The elephant in the room: Let's say that there are 2 billion people too many. Which ones have to go, and how do we make that happen? I know I don't pretend to have the answers.

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#192566 - 11/22/15 11:01 PM Re: Fire [Re: Glenn Roberts]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
Which ones have to go, and how do we make that happen?

Given the fact that reality cannot be fooled or evaded, it will at some future point take these decisions out of our hands and simply make it happen whether we like it or not.

We may happen to be better equipped than any other species to exploit natural resources for our own exclusive use, but we live on a finite planet with finite resources which is being rapidly thrown into disequilibrium by our ability to monopolize the best habitat and to mine aquifers, forests, metals, oil, gas & coal. There used to be a term, "a fool's paradise" and that is where we are living today.

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#192859 - 12/10/15 11:21 AM Re: Fire [Re: aimless]
tramp Offline
member

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 66
Loc: WV
Likely war or some teeny little 3 billion year old bug coming out of a long hibernation will take care of things. This rock will be here long after we've checked out.

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