Friday, September 5, 2014

Shaded Fuel Breaks - Vital Tool in Wildfire Management

Shaded Fuel Break - Eldorado National Forest

With smoke generated by numerous wildfires burning in Northern California stinging the eyes of many residents in coastal and inland valley areas, QWR believes it is important for recreationists and property owners to become more engaged in efforts to increase the number, size, and scope of forest /wildland fuel reduction projects on private, state, and federal lands.

One of the many fuel reduction tools used by land managers are shaded fuel breaks.  Recently, QWR visited private and federal shaded fuel breaks along the Highway 88 corridor on the Eldorado National Forest.

"Defensible Space" Shaded Fuel Break on Private Property

According to Fire Safe San Mateo County, one of the more common vegetation management practices is the creation of shaded fuel breaks, which are a carefully planned thinning of dense tree cover and the removal of underlying brush. These are placed in strategic locations along a ridge, access road, or other location such as around a subdivision.

Fire Safe San Mateo County Shaded Fuel Break Program

The objective of a shaded fuel break is to reduce, modify, and manage fuels within designated areas in order to enhance mitigation efforts in the event of a wildland fire situation. A shaded fuel break does not remove all vegetation in a given area.

Shaded Fuel Break along Forest Service Road - Eldorado National Forest

Cal Fire says that fire suppression resources can utilize this location to suppress wildland fires due to the modification of fuels of which may increase the probability of success during fire suppression activities. Any fuel break by itself will not stop a wildland fire.

OHV recreationists and other public land users know all too well about how uncontrolled wildfires can impact destination trail opportunities at Stonyford on the Mendocino National Forest (2012 Mill Fire) and the Hull Creek OHV area on the Stanislaus National Forest (2013 Rim Fire).  Mandatory 1 year or longer “hazard tree” closures are imposed which eliminates access to trail and campground opportunities within the burn footprint.

1 Year Rim Fire Closure - Stanislaus National Forest

 QWR commends those recreationists who are participating in pre and post-fire collaborative stakeholder processes.   Trying to find common ground with diverse interest groups on substantive vegetation management projects that can help protect resources and provide an economic benefit is an honorable task.  We really don’t have any other choice. 

1 comment:

  1. This is very good information, especially in this terrible fire season. Forest thinning projects are a GREAT way to assist in keeping fire danger down. Thanks for this mini story.
    Good stuff and common sense.
    D. Pickett D36 LAO