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The Dixie Fire burns atop Horton Ridge near Dixie Valley on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.Photo courtesy of USFS

Where We Stand: Camp ’70 team lays out plan to combat western wildfires

Editor’s note: The following is the executive summary from the Camp ’70 Western Wildfire Position Paper (Feb. 2022) supplied by Ron Cerruti, a member of the team.

The Camp ’70 team, a group of primarily retired professional foresters, attended and graduated with B.S. in Forestry degrees from the University of California School of Forestry in 1972. Some have advanced degrees, including at least one Ph.D. We all attended U.C. Forestry Camp at Meadow Valley, near Quincy, California, during 1970. The team members have various careers in forestry, including government, private industry, urban forestry, teaching, and consulting. Many of the members residing in California hold or have held Registered Professional Forester (RPF) licenses. Camp ’70 Foresters came together in response to the Dixie and Caldor fires in 2021. Our team of former classmates presents the following eight recommendations to combat the western wildfire problem:

1. Reduce wildland vegetation density throughout the forests of the Western U.S.

2. The regulatory morass that has handcuffed active forest management on both private and public lands over the last forty years has been a primary cause of uncontrolled forest growth and must be streamlined.

3. Billions of dollars of “new money” must be provided each year instead of reallocating or transferring money between accounts in annual federal and state budgets.

4. Camp ’70 recommends incentives including supply certainty, grants, tax, and other incentives be provided to stimulate a much larger and more competitive forest products industry and its infrastructure.

5. Current air quality burning restrictions need to be modified to facilitate prescribed fire in forested watersheds during appropriate burning conditions.

6. Relax export barriers on timber harvested from National Forests .

7. Allocate “new money” for wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire safety.

8. The federal government, tribal, state, and local governments are stakeholders and must work together to implement these recommendations.

Camp ’70 realized early on that the western wildfire problem is complex. We discussed many issues, alternatives, and potential solutions and decided to concentrate on what we felt were the most important ones. Our group members of mostly retired foresters do not receive compensation from any public or private entity for the positions taken in this paper. Our recommendations and comments are straightforward. Camp ’70 commentaries are designed to educate the public and representatives on what must be done to remedy the problem without dancing around the issues of red tape, over-regulation, and practices that some might find objectionable. Fire season is here. Now is the time for action by well-informed, experienced foresters and other professional wildland managers.

The Camp ’70 Western Wildfire Position Paper can be reviewed on the California Society of American Foresters (SAF) website. –Ron Cerruti, Camp ’70 Foresters. [email protected]

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