"Healthy Forests" money for LA area National Forests

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Wed May 12 16:56:10 EST 2004


May 12, 2004  Los Angeles Times
U.S. Funds Project to Cull Dying Trees
The $70-million plan will help cut fire risk in the San Bernardino
Mountains.
By Hugo Martín
Times Staff Writer

San Bernardino County and federal conservation officials approved a
$70-million project Tuesday to remove thousands of dead and dying
trees from the San Bernardino Mountains, the biggest effort so far to
clear timber that could fuel another deadly firestorm.

The agreement is part of a $120-million package approved by Congress
to clear swaths of dead forest that could ignite and threaten the
lives of up to 90,000 residents in San Bernardino, Riverside and San
Diego counties, according to authorities.

The counties are not required to match the funding. 

"This is the most amount thrown at this forest or any other forest in
a long time," said Greg Boll, president of the Big Bear Valley Fire
Safe Council, a nonprofit volunteer organization.

"It will make a huge difference in what is being done on the ground."

Efforts to remove the dead trees gained new urgency after a wildfire
swept through the San Bernardino Mountains last fall, leading to eight
deaths and destroying more than 1,000 homes and other structures.

The $70 million approved for San Bernardino County will pay to remove
an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 trees over the next three years, federal
officials said. The remaining $50 million in federal money will be
used for similar fire prevention efforts in Riverside and San Diego
counties.

Under the agreement with San Bernardino County, the Natural Resources
Conservation Service will hire contractors to clear dead trees on
private property where the hazard is greatest. The land includes
wooded areas along roads and evacuation routes, and property next to
homes, schools, hospitals, utility lines and power plants.

San Bernardino County fire officials already have met with residents
to select the areas that will be cleared first.

The first trees removed under the program could come down as early as
June 1, officials said.

Federal officials acknowledge that the funding approved Tuesday is
only a fraction of what is needed to reduce the threat.

As many as 12.5 million, or 36%, of the region's 35 million trees are
dead or dying, according to the most recent aerial surveys of the San
Bernardino National Forest conducted in September before last fall's
wildfires.

The fires charred more than 91,000 acres in San Bernardino County, but
destroyed only 7% of the dead trees. Making matters worse, fire
protection groups say, is that the beetle infestation has continued to
spread.

In the San Bernardino Mountains alone, forestry officials estimate it
could cost at least $1.2 billion over the next 10 to 12 years to
remove enough dead trees to eliminate the threat to residential
communities.

Comment by poster: Should the nation pay for the LA Basin's
"preservationism"? Apparently so. Of course, this money will be
"stolen" from other National Forests, which also needs the funding.
Are these LA Forests worth saving, since they are already on the brink
from drought, air pollution and global warming? Personally, I do think
good things can be done there to save parts of those forests. I also
think it's too late to "restore" those forests to what residents (and
the eco-media...specifically the LA Times) wanted it to be like. It is
imminently inevitable that a mega fire will take out whole towns and
make the Old Fire look like a BBQ.

Larry,     forest prophet



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