photo credit: New York Times

Fuels Reduction Partnerships Pay Off In Controlling The Washburn Fire

Some of the world’s most iconic trees in one of the world’s most famous forests are safe today thanks in part to resilience treatments funded through CAL FIRE’s Forest Health grant program.

“This project has meant the difference for the community and the grove. I suspect that if Wawona Road was in the state that it was prior to the project, it could be a very different outcome for the Mariposa grove and the community.”

– Garett Dickman, National Park Service Vegetation Ecologist

photo credit: New York Times

Protecting the ancient, majestic giant sequoias in the largest and most popular of Yosemite’s sequoias clusters was an immediate concern for land managers when the Washburn Fire broke out near Mariposa Grove. Fortunately, a partnership that includes the Mariposa County Resource Conservation District, National Park Service and local private landowners had done the important fuels reduction work that reduced the fire’s severity and helped firefighters protect the invaluable trees.

Garrett Dickman, a Vegetation Ecologist at Yosemite National Park was on the fire and observed its behavior. Referring to biomass removal treatments along a key road in the park, he said, “Firefighters [were] able to hold the road with minimal prep,” and the fuels reduction was “…proving critical in our ability to protect the community of Wawona.” Dickman pointed out that flame heights were a few inches to a just a few feet in treated areas, compared to flames that were tens to hundreds of feet long elsewhere.

photo credit: New York Times

CAL FIRE Forest Health provides funding to local and regional organizations that coordinate multiple treatment objectives, within landscape scale projects. Objectives include fuel reduction, prescribed fire, reforestation, biomass utilization and pest management. Land may be owned by tribes, private individuals, private companies, and local, state, or federal governments. The Washburn Fire is a good example of the critical impact these projects have in slowing the spread of wildfire, promoting forest health and, in this case, protecting some California’s most iconic natural treasures. 


RESOURCES


CAL FIRE Forest Health
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CAL FIRE Forest Health Grants
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Mariposa County RCD
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Yosemite National Park Fuels Management
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