By Michael De Lasaux
Quincy Library Group member
Although it’s been nearly 10 years since the Herger-Feinstein QLG project ended, the Quincy Library Group work continues to protect communities.
The North Complex, comprised of the Bear and Claremont Fires, involved miles and miles of dozer lines constructed as part of the firefighting work.
In some locations the QLG fuel treatments were used as locations for dozer lines; in other cases the fuel treatments were not used for dozer lines. In other locations the dozer lines and the fuel treatments were effective in stopping the fire’s forward progress. There are also examples where the combination of a fuel treatment and dozer line did not work.
The QLG fuel treatments were intended to work as a network positioned on ridgetops and roads to provide options for suppression forces. The fuelbreak thinning treatments were implemented between 10 and 15 years ago and may have been due for maintenance work. In some cases, the fuel treatments were not complete because of the need for prescribed fire to reduce surface fuel.
When the North Complex dozer lines near Bucks Lake, Meadow Valley, Quincy and La Porte are compared to the areas that were thinned as a result of the QLG influence it becomes clear that the fuel breaks were useful, perhaps critical, to the firefighting effort.
Because of the tragic Berry Creek community losses, I hesitate to make observations. There were QLG influenced fuel treatments to the east of Berry Creek. There are not dozer lines associated with them, likely because of the fire’s unexpected run during the extraordinary burning conditions of Sept. 8. I believe that it is likely that the fire behavior would have easily run past the fuel treatments even with dozer fire breaks.
This presentation is a very cursory analysis. It would benefit from additional analysis to help inform urgent decisions about how we will manage our forests for resiliency when confronted with the increasingly large and higher severity that threaten our communities, forests and watersheds.