Monday, August 9, 2010

Fires are a reminder we need more often (the Chainsaw Paradox)

Fire visible from our property consumed "only" 3 acres.
Summer fires remind us of the importance of sticking to our plan for thinning the woods around our future house site. By spring, the fires are a distant memory and we soften our resolve to thin as much as we planned.

We certainly don't need more fires, but we somehow need more frequent reminders.

July and August are forest fire season in this part of WA. It's also when thinning slows down because of restrictions on forest chainsaw use (because of the related fire hazard). By now, we've done most of the cutting for the season. Here and there we've been "lenient" and left trees that were supposed to be cut.

Watching the news about local fires makes us want to go in and thin a little more -- take out those nice clumps of trees we left alone, increase spacing near fire breaks (roads), clear a little farther from the house site.

Just a week ago we had a lightning fire in our canyon, on a ridge about a mile from our property. It started in a previous burn, where trees were thin, so it was a ground fire, not a crown fire. Winds were light, the brush was green, and it rained. A USFS fire crew responded quickly. Neighbors were ready to help try to protect a home nestled in trees 1,000 ft down a steep slope from the fire. The fire burned less than 3 acres.

There were 32 fire starts from that thuderstorm. One of them burned nearly 2,000 acres in Nahahum (nuh -Hom, rhymes with "the mom") Canyon several miles away. I took a tour of the burn on Saturday. Homes were protected, but other property was lost.

Our goal is to protect not only our home, but the habitat on the surrounding 20 acres. We also want to help protect the homes of our neighbors in a canyon-wide strategy. If we're ever evacuated because of a fire that threatens our place, we want to be confident that we'll return to a house and trees, not charcoal and grief.

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