Defusing a Ticking Time Bomb



From Els Cooperrider

It is inevitable that there will be another wildfire. It is part of the redwood ecology. As with the 2008 Lightning Complex fires, it will be high intensity and difficult to fight. Decades of overcutting and fire suppression have resulted in proliferation of forest fuels.

Timber companies are currently poisoning hardwood trees using a method called “Hack & Squirt”, leaving the trees to die and eventually decompose. As a result, our coastal forests now have as many as 15 million intentionally killed hardwood trees left standing. Add to that a tinder-dry forest in its fourth year of drought and we have—a ticking time bomb!

Even if you don’t live near the forest and are not in danger of losing your life or property, you care about our brave volunteer and professional firefighters.

A Cal Fire Incident Commander cautions his firefighters about the dangerous snags and dead trees which can fall and spread a fire. “He wanted to be sure that the firefighters paid attention carefully to each and every snag. It only takes one to cause injury or death.”

I asked our Mendocino County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Scaglione about the smoke from these poisoned trees when they burn. He wrote: “… the main ingredient, isopropylamine salt of Imazapyr…indicates that when thermally decomposed, may release hazardous and/or toxic fumes. and may release irritating or toxic fumes if burned.” He went on: Just as in “treated” lumber, I would whole heartedly recommend NOT burning wood that has been treated with any other EPA registered herbicide or pesticide.

Scaglione continued: “As to your question concerning protection of you and your family in case of fire, let me state the obvious; the most healthy option is not to remain in smoke laden areas if at all possible.”

You may not be in danger of burning in the next forest fire, but most of us will be breathing that toxic smoke when those poisoned trees burn. Think of our firefighters, putting themselves in harm’s way. They are the first line of defense and the first to be harmed by this misguided practice of intentionally killing and leaving standing millions of trees every year.

I hope you’ll give your firefighters and neighbors a fighting chance by signing the petition to place this important initiative on the ballot. MRC’s Mike Jani recently told a reporter that when this initiative becomes law they’d stop hack & squirt. Please help us defuse this time bomb.

For info contact:
Els Cooperrider,
(707) 937-6250


not to contradict how this may apply to present circumstances however
in the “long durée” wildfire is emphatically NOT part of ANY ecology: it’s
an importation, deliberate on the part of the first anthros to arrive — see
the work of Paul Martin — made exponentially worse by recent introduction of herds of domesticated animals, driving down water tables and baring the ground to fast- and tall-growing hot-burning annuals that moved into the bunch-grass prairies those herds consumed: prairies where someone who was a sheepherder in the 1920s told me ” it took weeks for a fire to get anywhere; you just stepped over the little creeping flames “

This reads like an injunction to learn how to swim after diving into a lake. We’ve been “treated” to very long personal/public letters from the CEO of Mendocino Redwood Company regarding their “treatment” of hardwoods protesting that it was — ” previous owners’ legacies on the ground which resulted, among other things, in tan oak unnaturally dominating the forest. The treatment of tan oak will return the forest to a mixed Redwood conifer forest in a time that matters to people alive today”.

The quote, in essence, is saying “We’ve got to hurry up and get this done quick”. Well, its too late in the game to be blaming previous owners, while everyone yammers back & forth about the hack & squirt ongoing. The same collective “everyone” is going to have to deal with the rainfall “shortfall” and the fire danger.

But the community bottom line must mandate that the “successful business” item on the agenda has to be struck. Too bad about the dividend “bottom line”! Whatever’s left of the hardwoods, that’s what’s on/in the ground now. We have to live with that! The extermination goal was an environmental objective that might have been viable within a less ambitious time frame, but its too late. In our newly evolving politically anti-corporate world, the goal simply is no longer valid.

Next up, sooner or later, expropriation!

Well, this bomb really can’t be diffused. It’s already in place – we just don’t know exactly when it will blow. Don’t recall the precise reference, but not long ago it was pointed out that the recently instituted fire fee/tax we’re all getting clobbered with on a per-dwelling basis, essentially doesn’t apply to MRC, the largest timberland holder and source of the intentional dead tree problem. Big Capitalism in action.

Let them eat charcoal!