Letters to the Editor

Letter: Wildfire management

To the Editor:

After Yellowstone National Park suffered a severe wildfire that destroyed facilities and many scenic wonders, I visited Yosemite National Park and the nearby grove of giant sequoia trees. I was surprised to see that Yosemite rangers had organized local fire companies to install and fill several residential “above-ground swimming pools” on high ground above areas that were used by visitors. Rangers had piled-up, “downed lumber and dead wood lying on the ground” that would support any major fire. They covered part with some cheap tarpaulin to keep it dry.

On a day picked for suitable conditions, I watched a small “burn crew” light fires in succession. At the top of the hill, a firetruck in radio contact pumped low pressure water from the swimming pools. They had installed a regular firefighters’ hose running all the way down the hillside with capped tie-in connections spaced along its length. They rapidly could provide high pressure water if needed.

I realized that if this procedure had been undertaken at Yellowstone instead of maintaining the tradition that fallen lumber is a habitat for animals and insects, it eventually would disintegrate, and then there would have been a very different Yellowstone story.

As volunteer site steward of a state-dedicated nature preserve, I routinely perform controlled burns that benefit the preserve. These carefully planned fires are dependent on weather conditions and managed by a trained burn crew with the correct equipment.

Our burns hit the undesirable vegetation and open up the land to sun and rain, providing the minimum 25 percent of the natural light required by native plants. Seeds of native plants can remain viable for up to 50 years, just waiting for the right conditions to germinate. Firefighters in California could do better fire management, but per the old story, funding is a prime target for budget-cutting. Thankfully, we can afford their help when needed to save lives.

Alan Wilson

Lake in the Hills

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