One center piece for ecological studies is the cycle of life, cycle of fire or any number of cycles found in the natural environment. A cycle can be fairly short such as the 10 day life cycle of a house fly to several hundred years for a natural forest.
I recently attended a Forester’s Conference with an agenda promising to look at fire in the forest. The knock on forestry is suppressing fire’s role thereby allowing forest biomass to build creating massive stand replacement fires. Foresters tend to plan for 80-100 years harvest cycles so burning up their efforts is not part of the plan. In fact the foresters’ perfect vision when planting trees is a cycle of planting with a harvest creating the stand replacement, instead of wildfire renewing the forest cycle.
One forest planner made the observation that long droughts were also not part of their plan for the future. Dry and often dead trees after only 35 years made fighting fire outbreaks particularly difficult. He mentioned that planting only ponderosa pine provided a great food source for pine bark beetles infesting trees weakened by long drought. Beetles are credited with a severe forest die-off in the Sierra Nevada. At one count, 150 million trees died over ten counties creating panic from home fire insurance providers.
An interesting outcome is the again recognized ecological principle of forest diversity. Replanting schedules after recent fires may change to several native tree species instead of just one. Discussed were planting percentages of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Incense cedar, giant sequoia and in developing wide fuel breaks to protect industrial forests from encroaching urban developments with their fire ignition potential. Missing from the formula are the oaks, mosaic patterns and different plant ages that make up a natural forest. Remaining are countless roads and log skid trails that allow fire suppression. Forests produced by clearcut logging and replanting may remain susceptible to catastrophic fires in the future. That jury is still out but is addressed in proposed AB 1492 requiring ecological performance measures
The speakers also included the fire suppression personnel that staffed the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County. This 2018 fire added over 93,000 acres to the 1,894,000 acres burned by 8,527 wildfires in a record year for California. Ventura County has been a leader in fire response techniques, but more importantly fire loss prevention. They were the primary authors of the now online Calfire ready-set-go program. This important program has at its core, home owner responsibility for house hardening and vegetation setbacks. According to the speakers, house hardening against ember cast entry, ignition start areas, and flammable vegetation can greatly increase home fire resiliency in the wildland urban interface (which of course is most of Lake County). This advice comes from the experts.
The 10- to 50-year-old housing stocks in Lake County were not designed to withstand the heavy ember cast environments in the