Over the past twenty years, a changing climate, population growth near forests and rangelands, and the buildup of brush and other fuels have dramatically increased the severity of wildfires and the damage that they cause to our natural lands and communities. Year after year, fire seasons grow longer and longer, destroying homes, threatening critical infrastructure and the watersheds that provide clean drinking water to millions of people. Between 1980 and 2011, the average annual number of fires on Federal land more than doubled, and the total area burned annually tripled. Even as fire seasons have grown, the way we pay to fight these fires remains unchanged – and fundamentally broken. Follow the link above to read more.
The loss of property and firefighters during wildfires are a reminder of the challenges we face in reducing the risks associated with large, unpredictable wildfires. Climate change, drought, insect infestations, changing land-use patterns, and other factors have contributed to increases in the complexity and in the numbers of wildfires across the United States. Visit http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2014/stories/04/responding-wildland-fire.shtml to read more.
Scorch resulting from prescribed fires is expected and accepted. Trees can survive with as little as 10 to 30 percent green needles remaining in the canopy. Some trees will die, and this is also expected and accepted. Often, the trees that succumb to scorch are the less fire-resistant species, such as white fir. Many of the trees should green back up within the next year to two years, helped by the thinning we’ve done there, which decreases competition for water, sunlight and nutrients. View photos and read more by following the link listed above.
The Forest Service launched a new wildland fire website with insightful information to help you learn about all these Forest Service activities from before, during and after a wildland fire. You’ll read about how the Forest Service feeds its firefighters, how they live while in fire camp and about the state-of-the-art technology they use while protecting natural resources and communities.
Fire is so important in the Sierra Nevada that it can be seen as medicine for ailing forests. However, as with most medicines, too large a dose is harmful. Past fire exclusion and timber harvest practices have resulted in significant changes to the structure and composition of many western coniferous forests, and they are often much denser and less resilient to drought, insects, disease and wildfire. Follow the link above to read more.
The U.S. Forest Service and movie-goers have seen agency-managed lands as the backdrop for dozens of motion pictures over the years, but this year it is participating in the magic of Hollywood in a slightly different way – as a creative consultant for the soon-to-be-released “Planes: Fire and Rescue.” Visit the link above to read more.
Horses are used all over U.S. Forest Service lands, especially in the west to get work done on trails and in wilderness areas. What’s interesting about the Blackrock Ranger Station on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming is the way they get such specialized horses. Wild mustangs are rounded up on Bureau of Land Management property, and then given to the Forest Service for free as weanlings or yearlings. Those horses are then trained to work in the wilderness. Folow the link above to read more.
The Blackwood Canyon OHV trail on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is a good case study of a successful 20+ year old joint project between the U.S. Forest Service and the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division’s grant program.
“People who live in a wildland-urban interface often forget or disregard the wildland fire cycles and dangers,” said Tom Harbour, Fire and Aviation Management director. “We need homeowners to understand that they can make a difference by making their homes defensible from wildfire.” Follow the link above to read more.
The Eldorado National Forest (NF), in cooperation with El Dorado County and the State of California, placed a California State Historical Marker at the site of the 1968 Olympic training facility at Echo Summit on the Eldorado National Forest. A celebration entitled “Return to the Summit” honored the site where U.S. Olympic Men’s Track and Field athletes broke four world records during the Olympic trials at a tumultuous time in our nation’s history. Follow the link above to watch the video.
As the flames from the recent Carstens Fire in the Sierra National Forest approached, two baby Western screech owls huddled abandoned in a nest. Then, without warning, the tree that was their home came crashing down to the ground. Firefighters working to contain the quickly-spreading fire had cut down the tree to build a fire control line. Too young to fly, the baby owls tumbled to the ground and onto a roadway. Read more by following the link above
The Forest Service has placed the salmon cam in the creek on the Tongass National Forest so viewers world-wide have the opportunity to view fish in their natural setting. The ability to watch salmon in the wild is a treat for many people, but the underwater camera gives you a more intimate, unique look. To view the salmon cam, follow this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-VY9rPwQJc.
Chips the bobcat, who was only four weeks old when she was rescued last August by U.S. Forest Service firefighter Tad Hair and his Mad River Hand hotshot crew, is now 8 months old and back in bobcat territory in Lassen County, Calif.
Puff and Fluff, the baby owls that Forest Service firefighters saved during the Carstens Fire in June, are finally home. Terri Williams of the Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Service released the Western Screech-Owls on July 24 near where they were found over a month ago in a downed tree in the Sierra National Forest. Read more and watch video of their release by visiting the link above.
The warm-water fish recently made the news when University of Nevada researchers displayed photos of an enormous goldfish found in Lake Tahoe. While the goldfish may seem innocent and beautiful in a glass fish bowl, they like other invasive species can wreak havoc on the lake’s natural ecosystem.