Saturday, September 12, 2009

Angeles National Forest - The Improved Situation Today

Ruth Sandra Sperling
RSS Designs In Fiber - Internet Shop of Handmade Items In Fibers

With the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest in such close proximity - in the mountains south of my home, I have been checking the InciWeb Incident Information for information daily - and often several times a day for updates.

I am glad to be able to report that per that report this morning, the Station Fire is 84% contained - it never spread over the north ridges of the San Gabriel Mountains so that you saw it from where I am in the east Antelope Valley -- due to the hard work and skills of all the Fire Fighting and Fire & Fuels people working on it, which I give a Huge, Heartfelt Thanks to!

They have worked so hard in the days since the fire spread to aproximately 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest.

Having been to U. S. Forest Service meetings regarding Fire & Fuels - having heard professionals in the field speak and show information - with some demonstration -- and having spent many hours of my time in the very area that the Station Fire is in, I have some reality on what they have had to deal with.

This Current Towercam Image from the 150-Foot Solar Tower at Mount Wilson Observatory (courtesy of the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy) shows a view from Mount Wilson Observatory - and it shows plenty of trees left!! For us tree-lovers and ecology-minded people, that is important!

It also shows their success in protecting Mount Wilson, with its Observatory and Communication Towers and Facilities.

It also gives an idea of the ragged terrain.

As discussed in this Wikipedia article on Mediterranean Climate, there is a lot of Chaparral in this climate -- and there was in the Station Fire area. Based on reports after the fire started, some of these areas had not burned for over 40 years - or over 100 years. Reading this other Wikipedia article on Chaparral may help for people to understand this climate and its ecology.

I can only conclude from reading these articles, that some of the fire may have been beneficial to this Chaparral ecosystem in some places because of the Fire Ecology of this ecosystem - though this is hard for the people living here to deal with. Chaparral species are adapted to certain fire regimes, which may be difficult to maintain for various reasons, including the human conditions and financial costs.

Understanding what is going on can be very helpful in dealing with these situations and I recommend reading the following articles on Wikipedia:

Fire Regime
Prescribed Burn

-- And this article from the Western Ecological Research Center of the USGS on Fire Ecology Research is informative and has many links to various documents. (Hearing Dr. Nathan Stephenson of the USGS discuss Fire Ecology and Fire Regimes at meetings for the development of the Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan [also a Mediterranean Climate] was very enlightening. See Science Advisories referenced on that page, including some Advisories by Dr. Nathan Stephenson.)

The end of the Station Fire is hopefully very near - they have the estimated total containment date as Sept. 15th.

Now we need to deal with the rehabilitation and restoration.

The US Forest Service has established the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team as part of the Rehabilitation.

Treepeople has the California Wildfire Restoration Intiative , where they will work with the US Forest Service in replanting the burned area - hopefully to maintain a native species population.

The Station Fire has been a frightening experience, but we have a future to look towards!

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