Tribute Trail, Nevada City, CA

January 16, 2016 OwnerMVa EOS Blog--Information, Musings, Opinion

Title: Tribute Trail. A Tribute to What?

For ten+ years I have been trying to expose this issue as the fraud it is–clearing native vegetation for “fire safety”. Here we go again with the “Tribute Trail” project.

In every major fire in CA, areas that were cleared (paid for with public monies) burned to the ground anyway. Clearing prior to the fire has made recovery of these areas more difficult, exacerbated erosion, and cost taxpayers even more (current example, Lake County). Think about it–has the incidence of massive fires declined in ten+ years of vegetation clearing? Clearing allows land to DRY OUT, making it more fire prone. Then there are the climate change effects–standing vegetation holds carbon. Removal of it (and the inane burning of it afterwards) contributes to climate change.

This gravy train began with the Bush Jr. era so-called “Healthy Forest Restoration Act (2003)”. It isn’t about public safety. It is and has always been about the money. Anyone can apply to do a “fire safety” project but no entity in CA monitors how this money is spent or if it, gosh, stops fires. The tax payer supports these habitat-killing projects and if these areas burn anyway, no one says a peep about it. Rare and native plants are destroyed, wildlife/bird habitat is destroyed (sorry, they need shrub cover especially in winter), erosion is exacerbated. After every clearing project I know about, if I can, I visit these areas and document the impacts and if these areas still burn. The area on La Barr Meadows that burned this summer had been FIRE CLEARED. It still burned. Shade and cover had been removed and the land was dry. Many cleared areas are now covered in noxious weedy flammable grasses. Acres of our native fawn lilies (and others) are permanently gone.

Were surveys done for rare plants? Birds? Amphibians? Oh, that’s right. They’re “exempt” from environmental review/assessment of climate change impacts because this is about “public safety”.

We are knowingly destroying some of the last pristine/semi-wild places left in California. WE put our houses here, in fire-prone country. WE chose to live here. This county removed the Steep Slope Ordinance to make it EASIER to build homes in dangerous areas, yet they blame Mother Nature. Such arrogance, hypocrisy. Our history is preserved in our native flora and fauna. We are knowingly destroying the history and heritage of our Sierra Nevada foothills for scurrilous reasons.

As I have written in so many articles (and will keep doing), many quasi/public agencies do not care about fire safety as much as an opportunity to keep themselves financially viable by getting their hands on the money. If they really cared about fire safety they would enact programs to retro-fit our homes with more fire safe roofs, help us install gravity fed water tanks that can serve three or four homes, run regular PSA’s in the fire season on fire safe measures.

Fire is a problem with HUMAN BEHAVIOR, not a problem with nature.

Why are they clearing slopes of vegetation during the rainy season? I believe, hope it is common sense that woody/deep-rooted vegetation hold slopes? I have documented many locations where vegetation was removed and the slopes have eroded/collapsed. The Union covered one of these major collapses.

This is the wrong time to destabilize slopes, especially near waterways. Who will pay for it if slopes collapse/begin mass wasting after the clearing? (Hint: you will).

The ONLY thing these entities focus on is cutting stuff down. Why? They remove all the beautiful and bee/wildlife-important manzanita and leave the nonnative giant reed grass and scotch broom behind. What about the young native trees growing in the understory? The clearing is wiping out the young trees growing in. Where are our future forests/oak woodlands supposed to come from?

We must campaign to prevent the re-authorization of the “Healthy Forests Restoration Act” and replace it with something that really does prevent fires by focusing on protecting STRUCTURES through proper design of new homes and retro-fitting existing ones though incentive programs. We could hold a fire-safety fair at the fairgrounds that exhibits fire-safe roofs, building techniques and design, proper site design to prevent fire, installing gravity-fed water tanks. The Steep Slope Ordinance must be restored that is, if Nevada County really cares about “fire safety”.

It is with grief I read about yet another project to destroy our native biodiversity for what will turn out to be a totally superfluous reason the root of which is, as always, money–YOUR money.

Note: Virginia Moran lost her home and business in the 2003 Cedar Firestorm in San Diego County, CA, along with thousands of others. Like Virginia, many of the residents cleared their property and still lost their homes. The fire was propelled by extreme winds and no amount of clearing could have stopped it. 95% of all the homes burned were made of wood.

Does Fire Clearing Stop Fires?Impacts of Fire Clearing to Native VegetationRemoval of Native Vegetation for Fire Clearing

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