I have been operating dozers and excavators on the Falcon Complex Fire and on the High Cascade Complex Fire since Aug. 9.
The three days of “lightening busts” that precipitated these fires (and many more throughout Southwestern Oregon) started one heck of a fire season, which for many of us in this area, is just now ending (as of Oct. 19).
Some of the areas that were burned fared much better than others, as to be expected, but the areas that experienced bad “fire runs" burned extremely hot, especially when you consider the amount of snow-pack that accumulated last winter, and the amount of rain that fell last spring.
Our forest was really not that dried out when this thing began, and yet, in many areas throughout the Umpqua, the devastation is significant. From what I’ve been told by Forest Service folks and contract firefighters who worked on the Umpqua North Complex Fires, the Calf/Copeland Area, and the Late Successional Reserve that it contains, was very badly damaged by a number of large, “stand-replacement runs."
This is not surprising when you consider the incredible amount of fuel that has been accumulating in these watersheds, and the number of years since this area last burned. Many knowledgeable people, like our friends from the Umpqua Forest Coalition, have been “sounding the alarm” in regard to Calf/Copeland for years. Now it is too late to save what was, and time to sadly consider what remains. Once again, groups like Umpqua Watersheds, and other like-minded folks (including our own Umpqua forest supervisor), have prevailed, and the debate over “what to do,” has delayed action to the “point of no return.”
Tens of thousands of irreplaceable ancient trees throughout this LSR, which was established to protect and enhance “old-growth habitat," have been lost forever, and not a word from the extremely vocal Busenbark Park protesters. It kind of makes you wonder … don’t it?