Tag Archives: fire danger in Bidwell Park

The view from the tinder box – Upper Bidwell Park just waiting for another dry lightening storm – where do you live?

6 Sep

Upper Bidwell Park along Hwy 32:  See the tiny pink tube – somebody was smoking something right on top of shoulder high dead grass surrounded by dead standing trees.

I sent the above picture to Mike Wolcott at the Enterprise Record. I told him it would be a good illustration for the letter I sent him almost a week ago about mismanagement and total neglect of Bidwell Park. He still hasn’t printed my letter – because he’s out of town, again. He  tried to tell me he spends most of his time at the ER but here’s the tell – when he’s gone, his staff print like 4 letters a day, leaving a big backlog, I’m guessing. Then when Wolcott comes back, there’s what I call a letters barf. Given the “out of the office” notice I got, I expect a letters barf on Tuesday or Wednesday of this next week.

In 2017 I sent a similar picture – of a cigarette that had engaged dry grass before, by some miracle, it just burned out – just days before the Stoney Fire mowed through the park, jumped Hwy 32 and threatened a home on the other side, leaving residents all along the canyon on pins and needles.

As they should be, really. Get ready for the next Big One folks, get your to-go bag ready and maybe buy yourself a “bug out” trailer to load your bigger junk. In fact, I’d load it in March, and leave it loaded until the first rains of Autumn, given the state’s neglect of public forests. It’s a regular tinder box out there. Just add an illegal camp fire, an off road vehicle, or, as we witnessed a few weeks ago driving into town, a dry lightening strike, and you have yourself a disaster.

Right now, we’re breathing what I would call “cancer air”.   After failing to thin and maintain healthy forests as in the past, Cal Fire has taken a “wait and see” posture.  Meaning, wait for a wildfire, and then, no matter the consequences for air quality, circle the wagons around any expensive houses and just let the damned thing burn itself out. That’s what’s  going on in the Mendocino fires, they’ve admitted it.

According to inciweb – The August Complex was initially 37 different fires on the Mendocino National Forest that started on August 17, 2020. Many have been contained or have merged. Currently, the complex is 221,284 acres and 18 percent contained. Actual acreage is subject to change as fire activity progresses throughout the day.

Merged? 18 percent contained?

This policy comes from the top – Gavin Newsom. While he blames Global Warming, he has cut the budget for Cal Fire and perpetuated a policy of no forest management. By forest management, I mean cleaning up tree trash, thinning of native species, and removal of non-native species, opening up the forest for the growth of healthy, mature native trees. Drive up Hwy 32 – what do you see beyond the burn scars? A forest crowded with tiny, brushy trees. Private parties have logged their lots but failed to remove tree trash, stumps and brush.

Now drive to Tahoe. See the big trees, the open space in the forest. That’s the result of yearly cleaning and maintenance. Clearing done in summer and burning done in Winter, as it should be.

We need a more consistent forest management policy in California. Years ago a policy change left forest lands the responsibility of counties and towns instead of Cal Fire. See how this has worked out (picture above). The city of Chico will never have the resources to properly manage Bidwell Park. It will continue to be an eyesore and a fire hazard as long as the city controls it. And Upper Bidwell Park is a liability to communities all the way up Hwy 32.

For now, I continue to send pics like this to the newspaper and the city.