Former Eureka Reporter Editor Censors HWC Commentary
Does everyone reading this remember how six years ago the Canoe Fire “destroyed” 7,500 acres of ancient redwoods?
Ok,.. that didn’t really happen, but former editor of the now now extinct Eureka Reporter thinks it happened. He recently wrote the following on his Redwood Empire Blog:
Six years ago, unbelievable government incompetence resulted in devastation. State authorities in 2003 allowed a small lightning-caused fire burn into a 13,744-acre ancient redwood-consuming inferno. Approximately 7,500 were irreplaceable old-growth redwoods. As an editor of a then-new online newspaper, I covered it and witnessed governmental incompetence on a shocking scale. I’ve been interested in it ever since. http://redwoodempire.blogspot.com/2009/08/govt-failure-kills-ancient-redwoods.html
HWC’s Editor posted a comment to Simmons’ blog post. We called him out on his failure to fact-check his own writing. We followed up with facts he omitted, as well as links to a diversity of opinion… Yet instead of allowing our comments to be viewed on his blog, he saw fit to delete our comments…
Simmons’ unwillingness to dialogue in his own forum means he is being brought to our forum. Our comment to his post is as follows:
Just spent a few minutes searching for the impacts of the fire before writing this and found the following:
The Canoe fire was a cool ground fire in the ancient forest and when winds picked up it destroyed cut-over regenerated forest. These tree farms, by their thick uniform nature, are the worst kind of fire hazard. Regrowing clearcuts are what were destroyed in the Canoe fire and that’s not because of a failed fire policy, it’s because mono-crop forest practices of the industrial-based past have set us up for a cascade of failures in a more eco-aware future.
The Gienger Report
Hugh Scanlon & Yana Valachovic, predicting post-fire severity.
Canoe Fire Case Study
Canoe Fire Progression, Behavior (Scanlon, 2007)
Save-the-Redwoods League, Canoe Fire
California Forest Stewardship Program newsletter, Fall 2008
For almost two weeks the Honeydew fire smoldered and burned in one area, and the Canoe fire generally stayed on the forest floor. Then strong winds came up out of the northeast and fanned the flames. The Honeydew fire burned around King Peak and down to the Pacific Ocean overnight. The Canoe fire spread into cutover land to the southwest, and subsequently swept into the Salmon Creek watershed, which has around 150 homes. These fires exemplified a huge need to come to grips with causes, responses, and other issues related to forestland fires under current forest conditions, especially as regards the urban/suburban interface with wildlands. No dwellings were destroyed in Salmon Creek, but it was close at times. Most fire damage was to the Chapman Ranch. Strong and shifting winds created very hazardous conditions, and there were several emergency evacuations of firefighters. The Honeydew fire actually circled back around King Peak to the south and east and at one point was an imminent threat to the Wilder Ridge and Ettersburg areas. http://treesfoundation.org/publications/article-130
Observed fire front advance in old-growth areas exhibited flame lengths of up to 0.3 m (one foot) and very slow rates of spread, up to 6 m per hour (20 ft/hr). Adjusting for slope and wind factors, these characteristics are considerably lower than predicted by the BEHAVE model for the most closely matched standard fuel model, Fuel Model 10 (Anderson 1982, Andrews 1986). Predicted flame lengths of 1.5 m (five ft) and maximum rates of spread of 152 m per hour (500 ft/hr) were common from the model.
Heavy fuel loads produced long duration fire intensity within the burn. While torching of the tall, living trees was rare, standing dead trees were common and readily burned. These became aerial fuels, providing embers that advanced the fire through a short range spotting effect.
As the fire remained on the lower slopes and in dense forest, wind effects were negligible. But on ridgelines, swirling winds caused spot fires well ahead of the main fire. Torching trees were more common in young-growth redwood. These effects produced substantial fire advance from ember ignited spot fires, some reported as far as one-mile ahead of the main fire. spot fires were common and predictable downwind from ridges. –From PDF: Progression and Behavior of the Canoe Fire in Coast Redwood
Most writers actually provide evidence of something being killed if they claim it is being killed? Have you ever gone out and studied the area that burned? have you even seen any dead ancient redwood forests that this fire caused? Do you have any specific documentation that specifies what burned or what didn’t burn?
Franco, I’ve been meaning to go out and study this burn area for years? Maybe it’s time we go out there together and find out?
So what did Franco do? He deleted these comment and then spent the entire evening writing an rebuttal to thecomment, which, among other things, said:
In an old-growth, unlogged forest, modern-era debris accumulation has two main variables. First is natural decay leading to a fuel load. Second is the additional accumulation in low-lying areas where floods have deposited more debris. Although there are multiple variables dictating a fire’s intensity, fuel is a significant factor. If it’s too hot, even old-growth redwoods will fall victim.
It is my opinion that the Canoe Fire could have been prevented and that the majority of dead and dying old-growth trees could have been avoided. They are international treasures. We are their custodians. No matter how resilient a redwood forest is, it is of no comfort if we have more Canoe-sized fires. The past century saw too many large fires in redwood parkland. The dilemma fire managers face was caused by fire suppression taking fire out of the natural mosaic.
As a result, when a blaze breaks out, it should not be viewed as “natural” in the sense of the historic precedent that pre-date human interaction. Additionally, in the Canoe Fire’s case, state parks and Cal Fire did not adequately take into consideration Southern Humboldt’s propensity for climatic variables. Nor am I convinced, despite the after-fire whitewashing, that all the climatic minutiae — including statistical modeling — used by Cal Fire and state parks served their purpose.
During and after the Canoe Fire, in my role as an editor/reporter, I spoke to several state officials who said that state parks hindered Cal Fire’s response to the blaze. The reason given was the “wilderness” designation in the area where the fire broke out. That’s key to understanding what occurred, even though some critics contend this is not true. http://redwoodempire.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-08-04T07%3A43%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=1
Yet again we tried to comment to his blog post… Yet again he refused to accept our comment / post… Yet again he refused the spirit of respectful, meaningful dialogue and instead chose to delete our comments to his blog. Here’s a copy of the 2nd reply / comment that that Franco refused:
You went out to the woods all those times and not once in the past six years have you returned to see how many trees survived?
I’ve read most of the articles / reports you’ve linked to and by facts / observation from them I’m certain of two things:
1) Your personal interpretations untruthfully exaggerate / overestimate fuel loads
2) Your personal interpretations untruthfully exaggerate / overestimate old growth mortality rates.
Overall we’re all at fault because we’re debating observations from years and year ago. So how about you an me go out there and realize how many burned trees have resprouted? Redwoods are vigrous sprouters ‘ya know! As in having an open mind to all the possibilities? As in making a comeback?
Aerial View of part of the Canoe fire burn area…
You may think that Simmons and his Eureka Reporter attitude are part of Humboldt county’s past, yet, in recent days weeks he’s appeared with thousands of words of rebuttal in the comment section of Heraldo’s Blog. http://humboldtherald.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/exclusive-why-gfs-quit-the-eureka-reporter/
So maybe, thanks to online commenting opportunities Franco is still part of the news community. Of course it makes us wonder about his unwillingness to allow us to comment on his own blog?
What do you think?