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Old 02-17-2013, 12:55 PM
 
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
2,019 posts, read 4,322,561 times
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If I recall, last summer there were military aircraft on the ground @ Peterson that would have been extremely helpful fighting our fires but were unavailable due to restrictions.

Hopefully there is some progress regarding the use of those aircraft:
Officials discuss rules on military firefighting planes | military, charles, air - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Discussions are underway to change a decades-long restriction that has kept military tankers grounded while firefighters scrambled civilian aircraft to drop slurry on wildfires.
Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, said he’s talking with federal authorities about relaxing the requirement that all civilian resources be exhausted before firefighters can tap the Defense Department’s fleet of C-130 firefighting tankers.

While civilian tankers tried to slow the ever-spreading flames, two Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base sat on the runway until about 48 hours after Waldo’s smoke plume appeared on June 23.
The firefighting unit at Peterson Air Force Base is one of four spread across the nation.

 
Old 02-17-2013, 01:26 PM
 
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Wink More wildfires — less planes

"…the intermountain West of North America, large portions of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, northern Scandinavia, plus most of Central Asia and Siberia are predicted to suffer 90 percent more fires between 2077 and 2099. Most of the rest of the Northern hemisphere is forecast to experience 66 percent more wildfires." [1]


In July of 2012 there were but 14 civilian air tankers towards wildfire suppression, and only 9 flown exclusively on U.S. Forest Service contracts.

President Obama signed a bill in June for the addition of 7 new air tankers, with delivery of the first in August.

But a decade ago there were 44 air tankers in this rapidly aging fleet. Maintaining a sufficient fleet of such plaines has obviously not been a high priority of the government.

1) 'Aerial Firefighting Capacity Declines as Wildfires Grow,' Mother Jones
Aerial Firefighting Capacity Declines as Wildfires Grow | Mother Jones
 
Old 02-17-2013, 04:00 PM
 
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A pilot that I know who used to fly wildfire fighting aircraft calls the C-130 "a deathtrap" for fighting mountain wildfires. The reason, according to him, is that the C-130 simply lacks the tight maneuverability to get into the areas where it is expected to go in order to be effective. Worse yet, if the pilot tries to "over-maneuver" the aircraft, especially with a full slurry load, it can overstress the airframe. I'm not a pilot or an aeronautical engineer, but this pilot said that he would NEVER fly a C-130 in that kind of duty, and he was a wildland firefighting pilot for a lot of years. The problem is that there are very few newer airframes that are capable of that kind of duty and the old ones left around (often over 50 years old) are just plain wearing out.
 
Old 03-08-2013, 01:06 PM
 
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Looks like this is what's in store.
Forest Service Will Let Some Blazes Burn | News from the Field | OutsideOnline.com
 
Old 03-08-2013, 02:41 PM
 
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Wink Out of sight ... not otherwise

"The policy change, announced last month by Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell, aims to keep firefighters out of danger and save money, as well as reduce the possibility of cataclysmic fires later by eliminating dead trees and other possible fuel sources. It also brings the agency back in line with the Wildland Fire Policy, which it, along with all other federal land managers, adopted in 1995." [1]


Maybe I've been out of touch, although no recall of having heard this before. Of a more natural approach to wildfires, as tentatively followed in the large Yellowstone wildfire of 1988, yes, although that sure has not been the approach in Rocky Mountain National Park of late. If both these national parks, versus the far greater territory of the U.S. Forest Service.

Still, our government is adept enough at widely broadcasting that it wishes well known, to the extent of more or less pounding one over the head with it (i.e. "war on drugs," "just so no," "only you can prevent wildfires.") Maybe that last one is all the more true now, but also obvious when they are unsure and launching trial balloons. As well in being covert, such as issuing unwelcome statements or signing new draconian laws late on a Friday, so as to hopefully go unnoticed. Not to mention having essentially murdered the transparency necessary for a democracy in adopting the excuse of "national security" for a whole host of things which clearly are not. If indeed so to the extent they should be known by the public, and in some cases are when later declassified, so that anyone who hasn't entirely forgotten might see how specious that designation was in the first place. Or just the vast black hole of the unknown better fitting a guy like Joseph Stalin.

Anyway, it appears from this article that our government is adopting the down low approach on this one: as in hopefully no one will much notice. They'll make a big show of it in trying to fight huge wildfires, such as those that threatened and nearly burned down Boulder and Fort Collins. Probably bad public relations in allowing that. But if anyone happens to notice smoke and smaller wildfires elsewhere, then they can be referred to the policy of naturally letting fires take care of themselves.

Fine. And in large part possibly a quite good idea. Only they can't have it both ways. If they wish a "natural approach," then they should not be out in our forests "managing" and "thinning" them into some kind of ordered park. Nor should they be ignoring all the many home owners moving out into the midst of the forest, and instead of told they are on their own, protected at all costs; as well each and every one of these places in effect a small island of suburbia, in being encouraged to make their property "defensible," so clearing out most all the natural vegetation. That kind of thing adds up.

Obviously what is also being thinned is the budget for these wildfires, and in this the U.S. Forest Service and our government could and should be far more forthright and honest. Would they continue to fight all wildfires if able? Or is this really a change of heart towards a better more natural approach? They sure do not seem to be publicizing that.

Perhaps in part because an honest accounting of where we really stand as a nation would be sobering. That the projection for the foreseeable future is increasingly drier and warmer conditions throughout most of the West. This in global warming something that has and continues to be decidedly influenced by mankind—and as well something that few societies or governments are willing to address head on. That at basis as long as that continues we can expect larger and more severe wildfires. Something that those in the know understand will in their strength become nearly unmanageable. That it will take serious resources just to fight these mega-wildfires, let alone those many others smaller. Colorado already witnessed such a system of triage last summer (2012).

Meanwhile, the Fern Lake Fire continues to burn in RMNP. A disturbing sign that it could start as late in the season, October, 9, 2012, or able to apparently continue through an entire winter. If it seems likely to flare up again come spring, perhaps good policy that RMNP allows it to naturally see to itself now. Although that sure was NOT their policy last summer in dealing with it, and a good question what they will decide this coming season. Or will one find much news of it. Not widely publicized with breathless TV reporters, as in Estes Park last summer. But if searching, yes, then a few accounts perhaps months after the fact.

RMNP information on this wildfire, says: "Park fire managers knew from the beginning it was going to be a long-term event."[2] That wasn't the impression given last autumn, when this was dismissed as a small back country wildfire that could be easily dealt with. Not something that at a point would require the partial evacuation of Estes Park and still be burning in March, 2013. Now that nature has not cooperated, the fuller truth emerges in this same release:

"Wildfire experts anticipate that we can expect fires to continue at this level unless conditions change. We can expect continued drought, which will intensify the number of fires in our forests. The trend indicates larger and more rapidly spreading fires can be expected. The number of acres burned nationally has been at historic highs, six of the last nine years. There is no indication that this trend will reverse soon." [2]

Something more refreshing, if sobering. The truth may be that remote wildfires will be left to themselves because everyone will be stretched the limits simply protecting their homes. That the greater West—save possibly, hopefully most settlements—will burn one way or another, so no point throwing good money after bad and trying to fight the invincible. Or that we've but begun down this path, with little choice now but to follow it as best we can.

1) 'Forest Service Will Let Some Blazes Burn,' Outside
Forest Service Will Let Some Blazes Burn | News from the Field | OutsideOnline.com

2) 'Current Park Fires/Fern Lake Fire,' National Park Service
Current Park Fires - Rocky Mountain National Park

Last edited by Idunn; 03-08-2013 at 04:08 PM..
 
Old 03-08-2013, 05:57 PM
 
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If they would just let it all burn, then they will not have to worry about it for 60-70 years. Bureaucrats and greenies keep trying to fight nature and it never works. Just let the fire do it's job and the forests will grow back.
 
Old 03-11-2013, 08:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
If they would just let it all burn, then they will not have to worry about it for 60-70 years. Bureaucrats and greenies keep trying to fight nature and it never works. Just let the fire do it's job and the forests will grow back.
In most respects I agree with you on this. Unfortunately, there are a few really big problems with that approach--at least for some people. First, there are all the greedy mountain land developers (and their customers) who have built all kinds of expensive crap in tinderbox forests. In case no one has noticed, the US Forest Service's firefighting mandate has been perverted from one of protecting public forest resources to one of protecting private structures on private property. Second, the water-greedy metro areas of Colorado are now dependent on the maximum watershed exploitation of nearly every single acre of the South Platte, Blue River, and upper Arkansas watersheds--all of them choked with overcrowded, diseased, and dying fire-prone lodgepole pine. A fire allowed to burn naturally (because it would be HUGE) in those watersheds could both pollute and compromise water supplies from those watersheds for years. Finally, an ignorant public has no concept of natural forest behavior and would never accept fire's natural solution to an unhealthy forest.

So, what we will get is more taxpayer money wasted to protect structures where they never should have been allowed to be built, fire suppression--ultimately futile--in tinderbox watersheds rather than acceptance of the fact that metropolitan Colorado has water demand that has already exceeded the long-term sustainability of the water supplies from those watersheds, and the continued decline of the Colorado forests. The sad irony is that nature ultimately will burn the unhealthy forests and start the forest life cycle again, in spite of our "best" efforts to prevent that. Last year was just a preview of coming attractions. This year we might get the "main feature."
 
Old 03-12-2013, 09:33 AM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,525,426 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
In most respects I agree with you on this. Unfortunately, there are a few really big problems with that approach--at least for some people. First, there are all the greedy mountain land developers (and their customers) who have built all kinds of expensive crap in tinderbox forests. In case no one has noticed, the US Forest Service's firefighting mandate has been perverted from one of protecting public forest resources to one of protecting private structures on private property. Second, the water-greedy metro areas of Colorado are now dependent on the maximum watershed exploitation of nearly every single acre of the South Platte, Blue River, and upper Arkansas watersheds--all of them choked with overcrowded, diseased, and dying fire-prone lodgepole pine. A fire allowed to burn naturally (because it would be HUGE) in those watersheds could both pollute and compromise water supplies from those watersheds for years. Finally, an ignorant public has no concept of natural forest behavior and would never accept fire's natural solution to an unhealthy forest.

So, what we will get is more taxpayer money wasted to protect structures where they never should have been allowed to be built, fire suppression--ultimately futile--in tinderbox watersheds rather than acceptance of the fact that metropolitan Colorado has water demand that has already exceeded the long-term sustainability of the water supplies from those watersheds, and the continued decline of the Colorado forests. The sad irony is that nature ultimately will burn the unhealthy forests and start the forest life cycle again, in spite of our "best" efforts to prevent that. Last year was just a preview of coming attractions. This year we might get the "main feature."
That's fine, then what they should do is start controlled burns in sectors to clear out all that underbrush and old growth and let the forest come back in those spots over time, that way it reduces the chances of an enormous major burn that compromises the water supply and becomes an extreme hazard.
 
Old 03-12-2013, 05:51 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
That's fine, then what they should do is start controlled burns in sectors to clear out all that underbrush and old growth and let the forest come back in those spots over time, that way it reduces the chances of an enormous major burn that compromises the water supply and becomes an extreme hazard.
Unfortunately, the condition of the forest is often so bad now that a controlled burn has an excellent chance of becoming uncontrolled. The Forest Service has gotten "burned" on that one--excuse the pun--a couple of time in recent history. Then, of course, there are the ancillary issues. Burning dead timber with some moisture content makes for a slower, smokier burn. Burn when there is little wind and the smoke tends to hang around--often enough to cause air quality violations in nearby metro areas. So, the Forest Service can often be prohibited from controlled burning when it would be safest to conduct them--during times of higher humidity and low winds. But an uncontrolled burn where the smoke plume can travel and befoul the air for hundreds of miles is apparently considered preferable to smaller controlled burns by the anti-air pollution crowd. Go figure.
 
Old 03-12-2013, 06:08 PM
 
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Wink The new New Mexico

Those thinking extensive wildfires in Colorado would be swell should visit New Mexico—no, in fact move there. And not up north, but way down south. Maybe in Deming.

Like it or not, our ecosystem is quickly changing. Wildfires certainly can be beneficial. However what many are overlooking is that mankind has wrought is precisely why conditions are so ripe for these massive wildfires. Or, put another way, that much of Colorado's existing vegetation is finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate conditions moving beyond that they are accustomed, or can live with.

So think New Mexico, nor just its alpine forests. As Colorado will become more like it, and much now treasured here—gone. It will not grow back in many cases.
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