Fire: The California Rim Fire

USFS 8.17The California Rim Fire in the Tuolumne River Canyon, Stanislaus National Forest, August 17 2013, the day it started. The fire expanded enormously over the next week, into Yosemite NP, was not contained for over two months, and finished as the 3rd largest fire in the California documentary record. Source: US Forest Service, via Tom Clark

Lately I’ve been trying to decide among several possible topical themes to focus on here, which is a challenge since my interests are all over the place.

For several reasons, I’ve decided to finally focus on the issues surrounding wildland fire, using this summer’s Rim Fire in California as the focal point. I couldn’t write about the fire when it happened, which from a news standpoint was fine since, being a national media event, everybody who was anybody (PBS, National Geographic, Time, USA Today, BBC, NY and LA Times, etc.) was busy crawling over each other to see who could dramatize it the most, and because it’s a landscape that’s near and dear to me, for several reasons, now turned to a moonscape in many places. I (and others) saw this coming long ago, and I know what awaits me when I go back in there to continue my research next year.

This event is a potential springboard for the discussion of many issues, including landscape ecology, land management practices, fire/disturbance ecology, remote sensing, climate change effects, and the media portrayal of events and the science behind them.

But for now, and by way of introduction, links to Tom Clark’s posts containing a series of photos and written commentary, here and here, to give you a sense of what happened. And here is great footage of the cockpit-level view of the terrain from a C-130 tanker as it drops a load of fire retardant along a ridge line in the Stanislaus National Forest, as the aircraft’s automatic alert system detects the terrain below. Google and YouTube searches will bring up an enormous amount of information and imagery of the fire if you’re interested.

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