Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Burn reforested

100_1202 ec

REFORESTATION by the U.S. Forest Service has led to trees repopulating in the burn area. Without reforestation, it would take hundreds of years for trees to naturally grow back. Courtesy photo

From page A1 | October 03, 2012 |

In the 20 years since the Cleveland Fire of El Dorado County, steps have been taken to prevent a major fire from breaking out in the same area after a large assessing, clearing and reforestation operation in the area.

After the fire, the U.S. Forest Service “spent nine months going through an environmental analysis,” said Don Errington, who was and continues to be the timber management officer for the Pacific Ranger District for the USFS.

“It was a high intensity fire, about 70 to 80 percent of the fire deemed high intensity.” High intensity, he explained, means that in that area, 100 percent of the trees die in the fire.

While some minor efforts had been made to thin out the trees and start logging, most of it was reforested from the previous Ice House fire about 30 years prior to the Cleveland Fire. “It was thick with brush, trees; it was very flammable.”

After the fire, the USFS began assessing while Michigan California began logging on an exemption. Nine months later, as the loggers were finishing, the USFS began salvaging the timber and selling it.

“It was a lot of work, the summer of ’93,” Errington said. “There were 200 truckloads of timber a day at the peak” for the Pacific District, which comprised about a quarter of the burn. “The Placer(ville) District did a little less, with less ground work and more aerial lifting.” The Placer District also comprised about a quarter of the land; the other half was private land.

About a million board feet was being cleared each day from the Pacific District, Errington said. “It was old growth, never logged, plus plantation,” he said, referring to areas where trees had been planted and logged. “It was intensive salvage for two years.” He said that the number of trees burned in the two weeks of the fire is what the forest would normally lose over the course of a full year. This could take a toll on those wanting to use the land recreationally, as well as local water quality.

“The creeks ran red. Ash and soil went into the American River. The impact on Folsom Lake was insignificant,” Errington said.

After clearing the aftermath, what Errington called “one of the last serious salvage sales in California,” reforestation began. Some of the dead trees were left alone for wildlife use. Another reason was environmental groups calling for no human help in rebuilding the forest. Without human help, Errington said, reforestation would take “centuries.”

As it was, the actions taken starting in 1992 would “set the tone for what the area will look like for the next 150 years,” he said. “We’re harvesting now to protect, it’s designed for future choices. But only if we get off to the right start after the fire.”

Areas where the dead trees were not removed are now brush fields and may return to actual forests in several generations, Errington said, whereas reforested areas now have trees and need to be pruned.

Reforesting and pruning allows for future generations to decide what they want to do with the forest, rather than a field of brush with a few saplings, Errington said. “There are a lot of choices for the future generations to make. These areas burn regularly, every seven, eight, 10 years. They are typically open, not a lot of brush, open trees. Open stands, cathedral-like, with pines.”

All of the proceeds from the salvage are going in to prevention of another fire, roads and training, Errington said. Basically, to fix what was done and to prevent it from happening again.

“What we have now is 50- or 60-foot trees, 14 to 16 inches in diameter. They are being managed much differently than after the Ice House Fire.” Pre-commercial treatment is given, reducing the number of trees and boughs that could add fuel to flames.

Those areas that have been reforested and trimmed to prevent fires are almost ready for commercial logging, Errington said. The thinned and treated area is about 100,000 acres, more than four times what the Cleveland Fire destroyed. Emphasis for the treatment has been around the community, he said, and their “ability to (treat areas) has improved with improved equipment and technology.”

Although it is expensive, the Forest Service is currently treating about 4,000 acres each year in Eldorado National Forest. The ultimate goal is to be able to do prescribe fires alongside trimming. Doing prescribed burns, monitored by firefighters, allows brush to be eliminated and to harden trees to future fires. The fire scars the trees, but does not burn them, leaving them less likely to be fuel for a later, bigger fire. But this has not been feasible with California’s air quality and other fires, Errington said.

“There’s concern it will happen again,” he said. “It almost has to happen again. We’re really lucky around here.”





Six file for Dist. 2

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

District 2 candidates forum Aug. 14

By News Release | From Page: B1

EID ditch customers get relief

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1

Veterans receive wildland fire training

By News Release | From Page: B1

Market data open for local biz

By Ross Branch | From Page: B1

Heard over the back fence: Attorney to warn about scams

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Road zone of benefit protester reaches dead end

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Volunteers clean up national forest

By News Release | From Page: A3 | Gallery



My turn: Special interests at EID

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4

Russian metastasis

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

The Democratic-Chronicles: Not invented here

By Gene Altshuler | From Page: A4



DA hogging Main St. parking

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

CAO and staff hiring friends

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Altshuler’s hypocrisy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

Small Farm compromise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

EID and Dale Coco

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post



Roundup: July 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Dolphins ring up another title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sharks defeat Loomis Basin in season finale

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Celebrity golf at Tahoe

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Dodgeball: Not the national pastime but …

By Shane Theodore | From Page: A7 | Gallery



At a glance: Comets to meteors

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Taste the best at the State Fair

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Tractor Supply Store recognized

By Uc Cooperative | From Page: B3

Amador Fair honors cowboys

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

Arbor Day book helps to identify trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

Learn about lavender and its many benefits

By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4

Lee’s Feed appreciates customers

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B5

My Time meeting in August

By Senior Day | From Page: B5

Builders’ Exchange honors scholars

By El Dorado Builders' Exchange | From Page: B5

En garde at Silver Screen Classic

By Auburn Silver Screen | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 8-10

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Walter Vali

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jean Lachelle Taylor

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8