I am so pleased to hear that the Plumas National Forest will be working on reducing forest “fuels” surrounding our communities on the Kighway 70 corridor (Quincy, Graeagle/Blairsden and Portola). Fuel reduction that is completed before a wildland fire begins makes a tremendous difference to our local, federal, state and private firefighting resources. Firefighters routinely seek out and use areas with less fuel to defend our communities from advancing fires.
Fuel reduction gives firefighters a fighting chance. After all, to stop a fire, you of course can’t change; the heat of the day, the dryness of the atmosphere, the slope of the land, the direction or intensity of the wind or the fact of a community being in a fires path. To stop the spread of a wildland fire, firefighters must remove vegetation and this is most successful where these fuels are already reduced before a fire sweeps in from a dense forest.
If it were as simple as home hardening and 100′ of defensible space to protect my home in Graeagle from a fire coming out of the Plumas National Forest I’d drop the expense of fire insurance and invest that savings in hardening my house even more (I have created defensible space).
My friends and family who lost their homes in Paradise, Greenville and Berry Creek all lived on private property adjacent the Plumas National Forest and would tell you as they have me, “I wish the PNF had done more fuel reduction.” While my house in Graeagle is yet unburned I applaud the Plumas National Forest for the large and proactive approach they are now pursuing.
I hope the State of California will also become more proactive in their responsibility to provide wildland fire protection to the private unincorporated “State Responsibility Area” along this same highway 70 corridor and place a couple of their fire stations a little closer than Westwood, Truckee or Susanville. Maybe actions by the United States Forest Service will be a catalyst for this change. I hope so. But “Hope” is not a Strategy, Fuel Reduction Surrounding Communities is a strategy and very good starting place for much improved community wide woodland fire protection.
Michael G. Brown (Retired, fire service – 36 years)
CalFire Battalion Chief (20 years) and Plans SectionChief on Incident Command Team 2
former Plumas Hotshot firefighter
former Town of Paradise Firefighter