Fire Has Ecological Benefits

To the Editor:

I read the July 25, 2015, article “Local consensus: Thin overgrown forests” with equal parts fascination and dismay. Two of the parties interviewed describe themselves as ecologists and yet they failed to recognize all the ecosystem benefits of wildfire, including the ecosystem benefits of the 400-square-mile Rim Fire. Nor do they acknowledge the amazing biodiversity of plants and animals which inhabit and depend upon burn areas, especially areas which burn at high intensity.

As I have learned from my visits to the Rim Fire area, the mature and old forests which burned at moderate and high intensity and have not been logged, harbor the most amazing array of wildflowers, natural tree regeneration and wildlife including, White-Headed and Black-backed woodpeckers, Blue-birds, Northern Goshawks, and California Spotted Owls.

These high-intensity fire areas do not perpetuate a “high-severity fire forest regime” as Mr. North claims. The science is clear that areas which burn hot and are not logged and replanted, very rarely re-burn, and when they do re-burn they overwhelming burn at lower severity. The science also shows that logging and road building result in chronic sedimentation damaging watershed health for people and wildlife for decades. In a forest ecosystem, bark beetles and tree mortality from drought are natural and beneficial. As the article indicates 80 percent of the Stanislaus forest is unburned. In this unburned forest there are on average less than 4 large dead trees (snags) per acre — the bare minimum necessary to support healthy populations of most wildlife species is 12.

Given that fire and dead trees are ecologically beneficial, why do we need a “corps of beavers on crack” to chew through the forest? Maybe it’s because these “beavers” just want taxpayers to foot the bill for getting logs to the mill.

Rachel Fazio

Big Bear City

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