|Credit: University of Miami|
A couple days ago, Biologist Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute posted a picture of an area of the Hwy 74 Idyllwild Grade that I hadn't seen in a while. This was after I had posted some historical photos taken from the Riverside County Museum website of old pictures of the San Jacinto Mountains on his page. We were making comparisons to how the land has changed from the past up to the present day. Here's the map he posted of the region on that Hwy 74 that crosses Strawberry Creek.
Strawberry Creek Bridge on Hwy 74
Would you like to know what what else you'll find in those old growth forests of Tecate Cypress up on Guatay Mountain ? Well, when you are out bushwacking up there in and around the existing forest pockets, you will stumble upon numerous examples of small Tecate Cypress seedlings of varying ages throughout the area, just like the one here in the picture by the U.S. Forest Service. Yes I know, I've heard all the old wives tales repeated on how ONLY FIRE can cause or trigger germination and that is why prescribed burning is important and necessary for these areas. This untrue philosophy is often parroted by an ignorant public who often comment on fire stories in the Newspaper headlines. Never underestimate the power of propaganda. But so much for that theory when you see these seedlings for yourself. Yes, of course the Cypress cones do burst open and release perhaps millions of seeds which produce possible 10s of 1000s of seedlings which will all compete for later establishment and regenerate a new forest. But that doesn't explain the seedling presence in these old growth Tecate/Chaparral settings. Perhaps the cones open during extremely hot weather periods. But I also saw the first time I was there some little small grey brown bird pecking at some of these cones. Unfortunately I have no clue as to what type of bird it was. However, perhaps some seeds do escape and make their way to just the right location and germinate successfully. I do know that the bird however, wasn't a ScrubJay or Woodpecker. Those would be the obvious choices. But it was interesting to find all manner of differing aged Tecate Cypress in an old growth setting as this.
Okay, back to the Dry Creek Canyon of the San Jacinto Mountains and the old Idyllwild Grade Road at the turn of the Century. We could say the same thing about land scaring that was done a century ago and still present. The present Land Management practices have not changed much from those old historical fire and land management policies which at the time thought to be the Good Science, but in reality nothing more than ignorant science of almost a century ago. Newer findings have proven these methods to be a waste of both time and money. Much of the early and present day control or prescribed burns are done in the middle of nowhere fare away from any housing or other commercial development. There are no immediate threats to civilization where there are only wildlife present.
|Former Idyllwild Biologist|
Tom Roberts now retired
Reporter Mary Rees:
"Why did you leave the Forest Service ?"
"The Forest Service was getting very politicized during the Reagan years. It was frustrating to be in a conservation position in any agency that had become very commodity-driven. Most of the Forest Service employees are driven by a stewardship mission to wisely use the resources. You can log old growth trees if you leave some of the trees for the spotted owls; you can graze cattle if you leave enough forage for deer to eat. But there was pressure to over-utilize both."
Tom Roberts must be 66 years old by now. He was 63 at the time of the 2010 interview and his latest book release. "Drake's Bay". He and Steve Raybould co-authored a couple of Forest Service publications together. I don't know what ever became of Steve, he was transferred to Los Padres National forest region. But here are some examples of their work with the understanding of things at the time related to prescribed burns. Things sure have come a long way since then. And yet with newer understanding with how nature works, the old school ideology prevails. The report has mostly to do with safety and protection more than anything. I will say one thing. Tom and Steve were always critical of the California Division of Forestry and their mismanagement of Control Burns which were well known for getting out of control and damaging precious habitat and destroying natural processes of tree movement into Chaparral country. I'll have a post on that when I come out to visit in April. Prime example is up on Keen Camp Summit on Hwy 74. There is actually a side by side example of Prescribe Burned land next to a 1982 wildfire Mountain Center burn which was mostly on private land ownership. The private land was left untouched, and by that I mean no trees planted to replace any lost. There are quadruple the large Jeffrey Pine and Coulter on these lands where Ceanothus chaparral grew up around the trees, than the Forest Serviced Managed lands. Do a quick Google at Jct hwy 74 & Keen Camp Rd which leads to "Living Free Pet Sanctuary" and you'll see what I'm talking about.
A MATRIX APPROACH TO FIRE PRESCRIPTION WRITING (1983)
|Photo Credit: Richard Halsey|
These scars almost never heal and scaring of canyon ridge lines offer nothing of value in the wilderness areas of Chaparral country within any National Forest. A firefighter would have to be an idiot to make a stand in such a location, especially given these later day Mega-fire weather conditions which have been exacerbated by the climate change variables. These older scars from the historical photos from Riverside Historical Museum are still present as you can see for yourself on a drive along hwy 74.
Here is the latest Fire Management and Chaparral Controversy subject matter that Chaparral Biologist Richard Halsey has been presenting to the public. This link is the report by the California Board of Forestry & Fire Protection.
"Vegetation Treatment Program Environmental Impact Report" (VTPEIR)
Further reference reading on Land mismanagement and scaring of landscape
Chaparral Institute: Fire Science
Chaparral Institute: Protecting Your Home From fire
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner Eastern District Of California Environmental Charges Filed In Marijuana Cultivation Cases
Are California's Pot Farms Bad for the Planet?
Ventana Wild - "The Fire Scar"