“The Rim fire that scorched a huge swath of Sierra Nevada forests also severely altered the habitat that is home to several of California’s rarest animals: the great gray owl, the Sierra Nevada red fox and the Pacific fisher.
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by Spreck Rosekrans:
“After 100 years, it’s time to set Yosemite free. …
“In 1913 – for the only time in American history – by passing The Raker Act, Congress allowed one of our national parks to be invaded and developed by a single municipality. The act permitted San Francisco to build a dam in Yosemite, flooding the once iconic Hetch Hetchy Valley under 300 feet of water.”
“If you burn it, they will come. That movie-based logic is how federal dollars get allocated for forests, say foresters, scientists, environmentalists and others familiar with how fire risk gets handled in the Sierra.
“The Rim Fire that started Aug. 17 and burned more than 400 square miles has already run up a $127 million price tag for firefighting.
“The Rim Fire, which torched 400 square miles of the Sierra, will require a monumental restoration effort. But the local congressman is responding by pushing a radical rewrite of environmental laws that would give timber firms a free hand to salvage usable trees left behind by the blaze.”
“Fire ecologists say it will take decades for forests to recover from the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, given the extent of the high-severity burn. Now they’re adding another concern to that list: California’s dry weather.”
“Calls for massive salvage logging, restoration and reforestation projects in the 257,000 acres of public wilderness scarred by the Rim fire have ignited controversy over how to proceed with the largest recovery effort undertaken in the Sierra Nevada. …
“But time is running out. The fire left behind about 1 billion board feet of salvageable timber, much of which could be rendered worthless by fungus and wood-boring beetles within a matter of months. At least 200 miles of roads are endangered by collapsing trees and fallen power poles.
“On Wednesday, Yosemite National Park was nearly empty, an emblem of the bitter, partisan battle in Washington that has shut down parts of the federal government for the first time in 17 years, including all 401 National Park Service sites.
“For years, Yosemite was an emblem of something different — the very notion of preserving American wilderness ‘for all people, for all time,’ said Mike Tollefson, its former superintendent.
“But this year is unlike any in Yosemite since Abraham Lincoln signed the park’s land grant in 1864.
“Just four weeks after the most intense day of California’s Rim Fire — when wind and extremely arid conditions created a conflagration that turned 30,000 acres of dense conifers and oaks into a moonscape — life is returning as the forest begins to repair itself.
From The Sacramento Bee in a commentary by David Mas Masumoto:
“As the smoke clears, the Rim fire has exposed a fundamental question for me: What’s my connection with Yosemite? …
“The Valley watershed begins in the Sierra – the water from the dramatic waterfalls and rivers winds down into our lands. Typically, we simply wait for the liquid gold to come spilling down for our thirsty fields and cities.”
“Perched atop a charred ridge, scientist Brad Rust stares at a tiny bead of water — which sits, motionless, glistening like a perfect pearl in a sea of ash.
“The soil does not absorb the droplet, it repels it — a finding that tells Rust and his colleagues that fierce winter rains could rush down these hillsides burned barren in the 260,000-acre Rim Fire, flushing dirt, rocks and ash from one of California’s most pristine watersheds.”
“The Rim fire near Yosemite was started by a hunter who lost control of his campfire, investigators from the U.S. Forest Service and the Tuolumne County district attorney’s office said Thursday.
“The blaze, which erupted in the Stanislaus National Forest north of the Tuolumne River on Aug. 17, has burned 370 square miles of national forest and parkland and destroyed 111 buildings, including 11 homes and three businesses.
“The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, one of the state’s worst on record, is dying down. What comes next could be just as monumental: safeguarding San Francisco’s 90-year old power and water system from the after-effects and finding the money for repairs. …
“Come winter, there will be another test of the fire’s effect. …
“A U.S. Forest Service official said Wednesday that the massive Rim fire burning into Yosemite National Park was probably not caused by an illegal marijuana farm, despite earlier comments made by a local fire chief. …
“Full containment of the 370-square-mile Rim fire isn’t expected for two weeks and investigators aren’t sure what started it.”
“One of two San Francisco-owned hydroelectric power plants damaged in a huge wildfire that continues to scorch Sierra timberland was back on line Tuesday, with the other plant expected to be running in a few weeks. …
“The fire burned to the shoreline of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of drinking water for 2.6 million people in the Bay Area.”