Thursday, October 1, 2009

Station Fire - The Recovery Begins

The towering pyrocumulus cloud from the superheated Station Fire over Los Angeles subsided and the flames have largely died down after containment, but now the work of renewal begins with the sequence that follows fire in this region. This fire in the Angeles National Forest was a very destructive, hot burn, and has created some extraordinarily difficult conditions that require some human response to assist the natural recovery process.

The extent of the burn is shown clearly in photos from NASA's Terra Satellite. The steps that need to be taken at this point should be careful ones, with the community in concert with State and Federal agency resources. As Pieter Severynen points out, there are field assessment practices in place, and critical points should be identified and stabilized with appropriate restoration strategies. Many community volunteers will be needed - plan to pitch in, support these efforts and become educated about the value of the forests in our local ecology. Preservation of natural topography and containment of urban encroachment are key approaches. This is in addition to the County's infrastructure repair program, which is basically a clean-up and urban property protection response. Mudslides pose a serious danger this winter, as well, greater than earlier threats to this area.

I feel that it would be appropriate to use this opportunity to make decisions on a regional level about reducing urban encroachment into the forests, and establish better management policies in these areas, such as we see in flood plains, to keep the structures in that area small and temporary. It's the only sane response to the cyclical natural processes that are becoming more volatile as our climate shifts. A Federal court ruling agrees with this position.