Monday, July 29, 2013

Baden-Powell and Throop

To see how fast SoCal's forests are burning away, scroll down.

Finally got up to the high peaks in the Angeles (besides Baldy). NICE. Baden-Powell is now easily my favorite peak. (BTW, good luck to the Angeles Crest 100 people this weekend!) I posted when I was up there before but didn't include any of my own pictures. Below are a couple.

There have been some fires recently and it kills me every time I hear how much acreage has been lost. I hate to be a negative Nellie but I just can't understand: our forests in SoCal are so precious, why do we let people have ANY kind of fire during fire season? Isn't a forest worth enduring the crippling inconvenience of not making s'mores between Easter and Halloween?

I started thinking about HOW precious. Since 2009, counting just the Station Fire, Mountain Fire, and Springs Fire, we have lost about 13% of our total forest. That works out to 3.3% of our forest per year. By that rate, all the forests will have burned by 2040.

How do I justify this number? The data I used is below. My assumptions are:

-Burnt areas were all forest (I know that's not true); but I also assume that ALL of SM, Angeles and SB are forest. Liberally speaking, not even half are. So the % destroyed is possibly worse than my estimate.

-Not counting Los Padres as SoCal. I also don't include Cleveland NF. If you've done much hiking in Cleveland, you know there are a couple spots with trees, but I'm overestimating the forest in SM+Angeles+SB a lot more than I'm underestimating Cleveland's contribution (which I estimate at 0).

-This neglects regeneration. I know fire-damaged areas recover, but over a human lifetime(s). (Cedar Fire-damaged areas in San Diego are still just bushes 10 years later - there's nothing like a forest there as yet.)

If you still think I'm being pessimistic, consider climate change. Will SoCal get hotter and drier over the next few decades, or cooler and wetter?

SoCal Forests Lost to Fire Since 2009 (all areas in acres)

AreaForest SizeFire size% lost
Angeles NF655,387160,57724.5
Santa Monica NRA156,670 28,00017.9
San Bernardino NF823,816270003.3
TOTAL156,670 28,00013.2

The total forest lost to fire in four years - actually, not even four total years - is 13.2%, or 3.3% lost per year, reflected in the graph above.

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