Trump was right about “raking” Finnish forests

Heavy machinery “rakes” Finland’s forest floors after tree cutting, greatly reducing fire risks

Mikko Paunio

President Donald Trump was recently ridiculed for telling California Governor Jerry Brown that the Golden State should do as my country does. Trump critics laughed at what some called his “bizarre” claim that foresters in Finland “rake” areas that have been thinned or clear-cut, to remove leaves and other debris that could otherwise start conflagrations like the recent tragic fires in California.

The Washington Post spread similar misinformation. The Los Angeles Times carried an article by Finnish “green” journalist Anu Partanen. “Finland to President Trump: We don’t rake the forest floor, but we do other things you should emulate,” the headline read. Late night talk show hosts had more fun at the President’s expense.

Ironically, all this happened at just about the time that Finland’s own forest specialists declared that Mr. Trump was correct about what he told Governor Brown. The foresters disseminated that information widely to the Finnish media and public.

As a result, much of Finland’s mainstream news media began ridiculing Finns who posted photos of garden rakes with the hashtag #RakingAmericaGreatAgain. Now the media are saying the self-styled comic activists were wrong to laugh at the President.

Of course, that too is ironic, since many of that same, very green Finnish mainstream media had actively questioned and ridiculed Mr. Trump just days earlier.

Back in America, not surprisingly, the exoneration story has been largely ignored. The media, pundits and late-night comedians had already made up their minds, don’t want to be confused by the facts – and don’t want their audiences confused by facts, either. Here’s the rest of the story: the missing facts, anyway.

One of the most pressing ecological problems today is preservationist forestry principles. This ideological approach prevents harvesting mature (or even any) trees, thinning out dense stands of timber to remove excess biomass (and thus allowing remaining trees to grow better, faster, thicker and taller), or even removing dense underbrush. This leads to an over-accumulation of biomass in trees and on forest floors. It makes forests vulnerable to raging and fast moving forest fires, especially during dry seasons, even more so when winds are blowing.

If these policies are accompanied by active suppression of forest fires over long periods of time – or by policies of not dousing “natural” fires until they become really big and dangerous – any ignition can lead to catastrophic events that cause tragic loss of property and human lives.

The “confusion” over what President Trump said unfortunately came initially from the Finnish side, as even our media thought “raking” meant only light removal of leaves, pine cones and other debris from forest floors. Even Finnish president Sauli Niinistö did not understand that the practice really involves “raking” with heavy machinery that removes extensive amounts of combustible material. Mr. Niinistö simply told Mr. Trump he could rely on advice from Finland to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

In Finland, after clear-cutting a forest area, crews use heavy machinery (similar to what is used in this video) to “rake” or gather tree harvesting residues, tree roots and other material into huge piles. The biomass is then chipped onsite after it has dried up sufficiently, and chips are hauled to local heat-producing plants to generate warmth for local residents.

In addition, throughout the clear-cut area, crews heavily till the soil so that a fire cannot move easily into or through the clear-cut area. This harvesting policy is motivated by the idea that clear-cutting mimics wildfires in pristine forests. Wildfires start a new succession: a new generation of trees in forests. Cutting does too, but without destroying soils and soil organisms the way raging fires do.

When the new succession has started in the previously clear-cut forest, Finnish law requires thinning operations around the best remaining trees, and accumulating biomass is again removed from time to time from these young forests. This again lessens the probability of uncontrolled wild fires, while allowing the strongest, healthiest trees to grow more fully in less confined spaces and with improved access to water, sunlight and nutrients.

There was some sense in Washington Post writer Rick Noack’s suggestion that forest roads can help prevent fires from spreading. They help fire brigades gain rapid access to fires before they get too big to control. They also provide open areas (“fire breaks”) that stop fires at their perimeters, if the fires aren’t too big.

Finland is about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. It has an extensive forest road network (120 thousand kilometers, or 75,000 miles!) – and significantly more trees than 100 years ago, despite clear-cutting being at the center of our wood harvesting policy.

However, Mr. Noack also said, “The forest service in Finland does carry out controlled burns of the forest floor, mostly to clear away underbrush and also promote new saplings.” This is misleading, because it makes controlled burns seem more important than they actually are.

As a recent Finnish morning television program pointed out, the yearly acreage of controlled forest fires is only 200-300 hectares (500-750 acres), which is next to nothing. Moreover, these controlled burns are apparently performed on state lands only to symbolically please environmentalists.

Finland’s last “large” forest fire took place in 1997. It burned 250 hectares (625 acres) of forest in Southern Finland – a tiny fraction of what many U.S. fires burn every year.

The catastrophic fires seen in California and elsewhere are not due to climate change – natural or manmade – although warmer, drier, windier weather can certainly be a major contributing factor. The important point is that foresters must adapt to both weather and climate change, and revise past practices that are now known to cause serious problems. They must manage forests better, more scientifically and more responsibly, with special attention to areas where large populations of people reside.

Governments could also implement new standards for homes built in or near forests. Homes should have fire-resistant roofs and walls, and people should be required to keep brush and debris from accumulating.

Governor Brown and others seem to cite climate change as a way to absolve them of responsibility for ideological or incompetent decisions that help create or perpetuate conditions that spawn horrific, deadly infernos. This must not continue.

One final point regarding climate change. Finland’s official forest studies estimate that climate change (warmer temperatures and more atmospheric carbon dioxide) will help increase annual timber growth from the current 102 million cubic meters (m3) to 130 million m3 by 2050. The current wood harvesting rate is around 72 million m3, and the government announced recently that annual growth increased by five million m3 to a staggering 107 million in 2018.

Finland manages theses forests for timber, wildlife, controlled fires – and protection of nearby homes and people. Its lessons can and should be applied elsewhere. President Trump understands that. His incomplete grasp of Finnish “raking” and other practices led to confusion and ridicule, but should not result in these principles and practices being rejected out of hand.

Mikko Paunio of Helsinki, Finland is a science and policy adviser of the American Council on Science and Health. He has served with numerous national and international climate adaptation working groups.

161 thoughts on “Trump was right about “raking” Finnish forests

    • Can we please get a complete list of all the women who got paid out with taxpayers money by Congress and the Senate. That truly is “raking the forest” to avoid a future firestorm, Washington style.

        • The dollar amount is irrelevant!

          The fact that these elected officials somehow think they are entitled to taxpayer funds to cover their crimes is astonishing considering they are supposed to be the source of exemplary legislation worldwide!

          Obviously, with a wink and a nod that august assembly is no longer exemplary!

  1. “..these controlled burns are apparently performed on state lands only to symbolically please environmentalists….”

    • And in Australia the environmentalists are against controlled burns and make using them as hard as possible.

    • That Trump is a clever guy for sure. He knows how to put out a “smocking” fire…. you “covfefe” it.

  2. Finland is quite a bit larger than Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Finland’s area is about 340,000 km^2 while Vermont plus New Hampshire are just under 50,000 km^2. Finland is roughly half the size of Alaska.

    • Finland is about 340,000 km^2, however Alaska is 1,723,337 km^2. Finland is about 130,000 sq Miles.
      Finland is about the size of North and South Carolina plus Virginia. 54, 32, 43, thousand sq miles respectively.

      • I just *knew* I was going to mess that up. I compared Alaska’s square miles to Finland’s square kilometers.

        FTR, it wasn’t me that botched the orbit insertion for the Mars Climate Orbiter.

  3. The forest raking remark reminds me of the ridicule Donald Rumsfield got with his “unknown unknowns” remark. At some point, thoughtful people pointed out that his remark was actually a brilliant distillation of a complex problem. link

    Somehow I’m painfully reminded of a week I spent listening to BBC 3.

      • I was trying for classical music. I got way too much corrosive blather from panels of social justice warriors.

        • Corrosive blather is GOOD for your mind. It only FEELS ugly and degrading. Like a mental hair shirt, self-flagellation, or a bed of nails, it makes you into a BETTER PERSON.

          Ask any SJW. They’ll gladly explain.

    • “its what you don’t know that you don’t know that gets you into trouble”;
      simplified … unknown unknowns.

      This concept is (ironically) lost on the left & most of the media.

      • “This concept is (ironically) lost on the left & most of the media.”

        It is absolutely lost on the left, right, and sometimes middle, and it is difficult to call out people who react very aggressively as many Alinsky-likes do. Tak e Myhre for example.

  4. Now if Caterpillar could just convert their D6 Series of medium bulldozers from diesel to all electric, we could clear the forests while being ecologically friendly too.

  5. Forestry in Finland and California are not comparable, especially with regard to fire. Finland has a completely different climate. While the precipitation isn’t much more on average, there is far more wetland, and boggy soils are more of a problem that drought – much peat bog has been drained for agriculture and forestry. The seasons are much different, temperatures, land ownership, forest clearing size, management intensity, amount of research done…very different situation.

    Looking at satellite photos of cleared forest in California, on many sites there doesn’t seem to be any dead wood at all, standing or on the ground…but that’s not always the case. At any rate, dense young regrowth will burn, too, especially when hot and dry.

    YES, management practices need to change, of course they do. But it’s just foolish to say, “NO! Climate change has nothing to do with it!” No one can be absolutely certain either way…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence. So, change management practices, of course! Change development and building codes, too. Protect homes and people. Adapt to changing conditions. None of these things rules out doing something about climate change. If climate just keeps changing, humans will always be playing a game of catch-up, trying to adapt. At least we might be able to slow it down and understand the effects well enough to be able to anticipate change and adapt before problems arise.

    • Yes, anyone who is objective knows that wild fire burn acreage in the U.S. is down almost an order of magnitude from the peak in the 1930’s. Climate change may have an impact because it was hotter then too.

    • The problem is that the Gaia worshippers (as opposed to actual environmentalists) blame everythingon climate change, to the point where they actively fight good forest management practices.

    • Kristi,
      The climate is always on the move. It is always in the process of changing. California’s problem is that it is run by ideologs who make policy based on political calculations that do not include the general welfare. You seem to think that there is some formula that will allow us to set up regulations that will not require revision as new conditions arise. This seems rather simple minded, particularly when California has invited Central America to relocate and enjoy the benefits of your welfare system. Just keeping up with the growth of your population should be the focus of a great deal of planning. Which will require continual adjustments of your regulations and management practices. Businesses must constantly make such adjustments or cease to exist. Do you think a huge, overarching bureaucracy is excused from the need to be responsive?

    • “No one can be absolutely certain either way…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence.”

      What ‘evidence do you have that climate change is making California wildfires worse? Temperatures and rainfall today are in the range of known natural variability from the past. In other words, there is no discernable evidence, that I am aware of, that the climate is beyond the scope of natural variability.

      Please share and enlighten!

      • Worse you might have dodgy weather record but I doubt you have any fuel load data so pick any answer you like… oh wait it CAGW they do.

      • In Kristi’s world, the fact that rainfall is different from last year, and CO2 is different from last year is sufficient to prove that we must regulate CO2.

      • James Clarke: Please resist the urge to ask Kristi serious questions, she will natter on into next week about her concerns and display mental cul-de-sacs that will make your jaw drop. Be grateful if she does not respond.

      • @The hot dry season in California has in recent years been extended by weeks before and after. This results in more material sufficiently dry enough to be tinder for wildfires. And wildfires are occuring at higher altitudes than ever before — because these altitudes have become warmer and dryer recently.

        Poor managment of forests can contribute to wildfires. Overdevelopoment on coastal plains can contribute to the damage that hurricanes inflict. The lesson to be drawn from all this, however, is not that human mistakes are the sole cause of disasters, but that climate change is making us pay higher and higher prices for our mistakes.

    • Don’t most animals in the world adapt to changes in their environment? If they don’t, do they not go extinct? The world is not a friendly place. Earn is harsh even in cities. We adapt to cold weather every year by turning on heat in our homes bundling up and drinking dark beer. We adapt to hot weather by going to the beach and switching from stouts to IPA’s and Kolsch’s. Where I live, we can have temperature swings of 40deg F in a day! What can we actually do against an earth that punishes us every day with a climate so volatile? Somehow, I think I can manage, thank Krom the beer in the pacific NW is so plentiful and delicious. I think I can manage another few degrees either way, somehow…

      • ” The world is not a friendly place. ” It’s not a case of ‘saving planet Earth, as much as saving us humans from the ravages of planet Earth.

        • Agreed, so it sounds like we are on the same page. Saving humans from freezing cold and blasting heat is fairly simple in this day and age, we have plenty of energy stored in the ground. Why anyone would want to hold back developing countries from the benefits of current, economical, life saving, technology and economic freedom generating fossil fuels is beyond me.

          • Modern environmentalism is based on the Marie Antoinette Rule: “Let the suffering peasants pretend to buy stuff they can’t afford, while the big shots pretend to care.”

    • ”But it’s just foolish to say, “NO! Climate change has nothing to do with it!” No one can be absolutely certain either way…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence”

      The evidence is, whether man made or not, temperatures have risen around one degree since the turn of the century. Kristi I can tell you from fire fighting experience that an increase of one degree has a negligible affect on fire behaviour. Wind and low humidity are the driving factors. Add to that the build up of fuels on the forest floor over the years due to not doing control burns or ”raking” only compounds the problem.

      • I assume the clause “temperatures have risen around one degree since the turn of the century” means since 1900, not 2000, because temps have been fairly stable since 2000; I further assume it means one degree C, not F, though it doesn’t say so. I also assume it means that a one-degree difference is basically undetectable to humans–walk from a 73-degree F room to a 72-degree room and see if you can tell. Then walk back. Maybe a few people can tell; but changes in humidity or presence of a fan can be felt much more easily. The whole foofaraw about a degree’s change in 120 years is nonsense.

        • Take an Elevator trip down 20 floors.

          That’s a 1°F increase in temperature due to Boyle’s law and the environmental lapse rate.

          Makes me break out in a sweat every time. (/sarc)

          • If you want to ‘break out in a sweat’, walk the stairs for those 20 floors, in either direction.

        • John M. Ware. Yes, becoming an old fart, the turn of the century for me still means the start of the 20th century. And yes being an Aussie its one degree C. I guess being new to this blog, one should be more precise amongst science minds.

      • California has not enjoyed any temperature increase from either 1901 or 2001, outside of urban heat islands and possibly irrigated farmland.

    • ” But it’s just foolish to say, “NO! Climate change has nothing to do with it!” No one can be absolutely certain either way…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence.”

      What evidence, Kristi? Drier fuel? Do you have evidence that the fuel load is drier due to global warming than due to almost hurricane force desiccating winds that can completely dry out brush and grass within a matter of hours?

    • Growing up I heard a song on the radio with the hook “it never rains in CA”. This song was from the 70s, I think.

      Who knew dry conditions would be good for fires 😳

    • kristi silber

      Adapting after the fact is what man does best.

      Anticipation and planning of unknowns, not so much.

    • Please let me know when you find data driven evidence of the climate ever not changing.
      …the climate change obsession really dumbs down some bright people.
      The point of what President Trump was saying, correctly, is that the green status quo as practiced in California is not working, is killing people and destroying property. The failed status quo can be vastly improved by use of the sort of good practices used in Finland, applied to the specifics of California.

    • Oh Kristi is back to share her knowledge, I notice you didn’t comment on the going to zero article so I assume by your silence you have accepted the facts which initially you didn’t believe?

      Perhaps you would like to share with us your knowledge on this subject and explain the science of how much we should attribute to CAGW and how much was to just bureaucracy making bad choices?

    • But it’s just foolish to say, “NO! Climate change has nothing to do with it!” No one can be absolutely certain either way…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence.

      “No one can be absolutely certain either way” because there is *ZERO* evidence that man-made climate change has anything to do with it, just mindless assertions by activists that it does.

      If climate just keeps changing, humans will always be playing a game of catch-up, trying to adapt

      climate does keep changing, it has done so ever since climate first came into being on this little rock in space we call the Earth. Climate will continue to keep changing long after mankind is gone. Man does not control the climate, man can only ever “play catch-up” with mother nature’s ever changing climate.

      • Looks like I messed up the italics tags on the first paragraph (which were Kristi’s words). My replies to what I was quoting of Kristi’s post are the 2nd and 4th paragraphs.

    • Unless you can prove that CO2 had no impact, you must assume that CO2 has impact and therefore CO2 must be regulated.

      Is that really what passes for logic at your university Kristi?

      • Unless you can prove that CO2 had no impact, you must assume that CO2 has impact and therefore CO2 must be regulated.

        The whole fraud of CAGW is based on that logical fallacy!

      • Unless you can prove that unicorn farts had no impact, you must assume that unicorn farts has impact and therefore unicorn farts must be regulated.

        That’s about the size of it.

    • Kristi, since everything that is happening in climate has happened before, where is the evidence to support your belief that CO2 is causing any impact?
      California has always had droughts, many of them much bigger than the recent ones.
      A logical mind would look at the data and conclude that there is no evidence that CO2 is having an impact and move forward from there.
      You on the other hand are desperate to find any excuse to justify what you want to believe.

    • “If tree rings provided no information about temperature data, they would not be used. Simple as that. Just because you don’t understand all that goes into the science of dendroclimatology doesn’t make it invalid.”

      “…but in my opinion, it seems pretty likely, based on the evidence.”

      Ms. Silber,

      In the realm of science, one’s opinions are meaningless and irrelevant. What can be established logically from first principles is what matters. Your thoughts on dendroclimatology mark you as credulous.

    • Kristi,

      To summarize, we have a list of possible ways to mitigate this problem, including:

      A) Improve development and building codes, as you mentioned.
      B) Rethink how PG&E lays its power lines, which started at least 12 fires last year, and very likely ignited the big fires this year too.
      C) Take the advice that ecologists have given for decades and allow natural or controlled burning of the forests in order to remove fuel load.
      D) Attempt to change the climate of planet Earth by massively altering modern, industrial society, in the hopes that that there will be a resultant reduction in the increase of average global temperature, in the further hope that this hypothetical change to planet Earth will, in turn, make the climate and soil of California sufficiently moist such that the fuel load existing in the forests will not easily burn.

      Of these various options, you seem to think that A-C are important, but you seem upset and confused at the fact that people here for some reason are not sufficiently focused on the clear virtues of Option D, despite that really being the important and easily addressed issue that will likely resolve this problem. Is that right?

      I would suggest to you that perhaps the skeptics on this site are actually the ones making a bit more sense. I would also point out to you that if a reduction in CO2 emissions were magically to roll the climate of California back to what it was in, say, the 19th century, you might not like that very much either. Please see attached a link to a short history of California floods and drought, published in 1890. Things were not as rosy in the “pre-Anthropocene” as you might imagine.

      https://www.jstor.org/stable/41167825?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

      • Reacher51, thank you for the link to the history of floods and draughts in California in the nineteenth century. I wonder what the Governor of California will have to say when the next great Sacramento flood occurs. Or Newport Beach and Balboa Island are swept away by 56 inches of rain in the first two months of the year. I suspect that most of the development that has occurred in the last 50 years will be found to be wanting.

    • Read about ‘ firewise ‘ and ‘ fire adapted communities ‘.
      We had a crew do a week of cutting, clearing, chipping and raking just two years ago. That was done in the late spring because later in the year this crew would be on fire duty.

      Many fires start near well traveled highways. Guess what? Along some of them, designated as scenic, the grass, trees, & brush — dead or alive — is supposed to stay there.

      • My community has been designated FIREWISE by the South Carolina Dept of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). We are in a dense wooded area in the northwest part of the state (near the Blue Ridge Mountains).

        To earn that designation each homeowner has to keep their wooded property clear of debris, no trees near the home and avoid flammables such as pine straw. Several times a year community volunteers use a fleet of their own pickup trucks to collect the wood debris collected by residents.

        In return we have earned grants from DHEC which has enabled us to purchase among other equipment a front loader and a huge chipper.

        We are also a designated Audubon community so there is obviously no fowl impact (pun intended) to our efforts.

    • Clearcutting to buffer or prevent fires seems pretty draconian to me, and their argument for it is absurd.

      I wonder when a less extreme measure might come into vogue: it’s one that greens might endorse because it’s ancient, and “natural”. It is targeted grazing. In many parts of the world, cattle, sheep and goats are allowed to freely graze the forests, but especially the forest-human interface. What one animal didn’t eat another might. The end result of generations of intensive forest grazing, along with human clearances, is an open canopy with cleared forest floors. The interface is where people are losing their houses to fire.

      People might not like seeing the cow flops, but they might be convinced that this is “sustainable ag”, “forest restoration”, and “free range” food on the hoof. It is some of the most nutritious and productive pasturage too. As far as fires, I don’t have statistics, but one has to imagine they are being reduced wherever this age-old grazing right is enjoyed.

      https://www.beefmagazine.com/grazing-systems/studies-demonstrate-how-cattle-grazing-reduces-wildfire-risk

      • Bill Parsons: “cattle, sheep and goats are allowed to freely graze the forests”

        graze: “to feed on growing grass and pasturage, as do cattle, sheep, etc. ”

        Forests typically don’t offer ‘grass or pasturage’. The tree canopy of a forest consumes the sunlight and limits the photosynthesis at ground level.

        • Cloven hoof critters ‘free graze’ in 2nd growth managed forests create- help maintain a checker board landscape. This grazing does include some of the chamise growth-light brush much of this falls into the 1 hour fuel when dead-dried out. Checker board timber conifer creates a fire environment that tends to keep a fire on the ground with natural opportunities for fire control. Grasses and other typical 1 hour fuels do well in 2nd growth Western United States forests. Western forests that have grazers during the summer will keep large grass areas cropped close. Old Growth and Federal Forest logged 2nd growth grazing did in the olden days pre spotted owl vs Barred Owl kept most of the 1 hour grass in check along with the constant foot stomp of the hoof critters thinning the ladder fuels/too many new tree sprouts. 1 hour- grass leaves needle and chamise up to 1/4 inch diameter. Fire thrives in 1 hour fuel, being the primary carrier of fire and forward spotting(as in the recent Paradise fire)

      • “Clearcutting to buffer or prevent fires seems pretty draconian to me, and their argument for it is absurd.”

        It seems absurd and that is the reason why we never clear-cut forest to prevent forest fires. We do it simply to harvest the timber fast, effectively and with the lowest cost possible.

        • MAK: “We [clear-cut forests] simply to harvest the timber fast”

          And, it has been observed that in contrast to targeted forestry practices, after clear-cutting the underbrush thrived, directly leading to an explosion in the rabbit population which in turn led to a boon in the (endangered) lynx population.

          Therefore, clearcutting helps restore an endangered species population.

      • Range management on forest lands is a new concept to some people.

        BLM has been leasing land to cattlemen and ranchers in Colorado for more than 100 years. There are sheep and cattle ranches all over the Rocky mountains, and yes, they run their stock all over the mountains. The question is not whether there is adequate forage. Elk are the same kind of ruminant as cattle. They are grazers, and they do fine even at upper elevations. The problem for livestock herders is keeping track of their cattle in forests, something that could easily be overcome with GPS chips and drones.

        If all you want to do is clear cut forests for the timber, you’re ignoring the question of how to manage the forests. WithOUT any forests, you have nothing to manage. Case closed. Thomas Homer even points out the natural, apparently “desired”, result of this: “thriving underbrush”. The implication is that the underbrush doesn’t burn. Remember, the purpose of the article was to point up solutions to forest fires. Clear cutting in swaths might buffer certain areas from further fires, but a better way to accomplish forest management – assuming you want to keep the forests – is to do selective cutting and removal, and “raking” the forest floor of its litter with the most discriminating, thorough, and cost-effective “rakes”: livestock grazers.

        BTW there are plenty of pastures at high elevation and livestock create and extend their own pastures wherever there is a clearing. There’s lots of grass, leaf litter and other fodder in the mountains and as long as stock are kept moving their effects on the terrain can be beneficial in removing fuel for future fires.

  6. Here in the Socialist Republic of Victoria you’ll get fined thousands of dollars if you’re caught collecting fallen timber from the roadside.

      • I the iron fist approach is justified on the basis of something like “it forms important habitat for wildlife”. Under limited conditions firewood can be collected in state forests at certain times of year, subject to purchase of a permit.
        It used to be that the fine for taking fallen forest timber “illegally” was punishable by a fine of around seven grand and or a year in jail. Not sure what the going rate is now.

  7. Kristi,

    Below are the names & dates of 5 large fires listed at this link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_wildfires#Pre-2000

    Santiago Canyon Fire (1889).
    Berkeley Fire (1923).
    Griffith Park Fire (1933).
    Rattlesnake Fire (1953).
    Bel Air Fire (1961).

    Perhaps you can explain these fires as a function of climate change.

    The natural vegetaton of a Mediterranean climate [Csa & Csb] is of a type that withstands hot dry summers but, unfortunatly also burns well because of that characteristic. See this page, at “Indicator Plant Species”, especially note the terms volatile, burn fiercely, & pyrogenic.
    http://w3.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/shrub.htm

  8. This article seems completely devoid of any links that might provide evidence to support the
    author’s statement. It would also appear to rely heavily on a misunderstanding of what “rake”
    means in English compared to Finnish. The author is talking about what happens after clear
    cutting a section of the forest — which is also what the video clip shows — he describes completely
    removing almost all vegetation from a region of forest right down to the bare earth. In no sense
    of the word can that be described as “raking”. It would stop fires effectively though.

    • The picture shows a “root rake”, so the author probably didn’t see a need for other supporting evidence. There are many different models for dozers, excavators, bobcats etc. and also types with sliding fingers to remove brush only while leaving stumps. There was a brief enthusiasm for this in Nova Scotia for forestry about 35 years ago. Now it is only done for land clearing. And yes, we called it raking.

    • The implement is commonly known as a root rake , and the practise is referred to as root raking.
      Maybe we are not to say root anymore.

    • “… completely removing almost all vegetation from a region of forest right down to the bare earth. In no sense of the word can that be described as “raking”. It would stop fires effectively though.”

      Looks like raking to me. This one’s called a Rachet Rake (starts at 2:37)

    • Implements like that are commonly used on US farm tractors although they are typically pulled rather than pushed. They are called ‘rakes’ and are used to clear debris. A photo seems more than enough needed to make the point.

  9. “In Finland, after clear-cutting a forest area, crews use heavy machinery (similar to what is used in this video) to “rake” or gather tree harvesting residues, tree roots and other material into huge piles. The biomass is then chipped onsite after it has dried up sufficiently, and chips are hauled to local heat-producing plants to generate warmth for local residents.

    In addition, throughout the clear-cut area, crews heavily till the soil so that a fire cannot move easily into or through the clear-cut area. This harvesting policy is motivated by the idea that clear-cutting mimics wildfires in pristine forests. ”

    Wouldn’t these practises be mainly to allow a new generation of trees to have a good start, like ploughing for a crop, rather than fire management ?

    Finland is so much cooler than California, so I am guessing fire is not so much of a problem ?

    • Finland is comparable to the North American Great Lakes region, where America’s largest forest fires have actually occurred. The Wisconsin fires that obliterated Peshtigo, Wisconsin in 1871, were five times larger than this year’s CA Camp Fire, and killed 20 times more people. The Michigan Thumb fire in 1881 was comparable in size, but with a smaller death toll.

      The Chicago fire was the same day as Peshtigo, but got all the press, even though it killed only about 400 people to Peshtigo’s 1800. Media emanates from cities, and Chicago is a city.

      The oil industry is good for forests in several ways:

      1. It powers the equipment (like power rakes) that enable better forest management.

      2. It makes existing farmland more productive, which frees up more marginal land for trees.

      3. Carbon dioxide speeds up plant growth.

      The Gaia worshipers just want to scream “Sin! Sin!” rather than examine the facts.

    • No, forest fires are not the problem in Finland due to colder and much more moist climate. Also ground being under snow for 2-6 months / year very effectively prevents forest fires.

      • Cold really doesn’t have that much to do with it, except by indirectly affecting humidity. Fires will exist as long as there exists a low moisture fuel load, oxygen (which high winds magnify) and an ignition source.

      • CA also enjoys a lot of snow. It relies on its snowpack for water.

        The highest point in Finland is 4344 feet; in CA 14,505 feet.

        Obviously, CA forests don’t extend that high, but they do still get lots of snow.

  10. As many of WUWT readers have been saying for years, California’s insane eco-wacko forestry practices directly led to the devastating wild fires experienced over the last decade.

    Leftist loonies passed insane forestry laws preventing the clearing of deadfall, reducing trees/acre densities, building forest roads, restricting lumber production, etc.

    Even cutting down dangerous diseased/dead trees on private property was made illegal without going through complicated/time consuming steps to get a special permit…

    Leftists’ modus operandi is to blame Conservatives, Trump or Global Warming for all problems, and continue implementing more Leftist rules, regulations, mandates, taxes and government debt on people to Save The World….

    Again, the Immutable Law of Leftist Irony rears it ugly head…

    • I agree there have even been posts here for years that it was inevitable that based on California practices that it was only a matter of time before they paid a heavy price. To blame what happened on CAGW and dismiss it lets those who are really responsible off the hook for cheap political points.

  11. Seems to me that the forest fires in some regions mirror the disastrous floods we had in the UK a few years back , which were due to deliberate EU policies of NOT clearing watercourses. Many people lost their homes in those floods, as in the recent fires.

    • Ian,
      You make an excellent observation.
      From Australia’s deadly bush fires to European flooding to deadly fires in California, the common thread is extremist greens getting their policies imposed.

  12. The article misses the main point in this topic.

    The climate here in Finland is totally different than it is in California. The forests are under the snow from 2-6 months per year. And even during the rest of the year we have “dry” season of only 2-4 weeks (typically during July/August) during which we have “forest fire warning” (i.e. creating open fire in the forest is forbidden). When the “hot” summer (in Finnish terms) is over, the fall rains begin. Thus, we never have accumulation of dry biomass in the forest like in California.

    Even during that “dry” season everything is still “green” e.g. blueberries and similar plants flourish in our coniferous forests. We don’t ever have lots of dry (dead) biomass in the forest, since our “dry” season is never that dry.

    And we also don’t have those heavy winds you have in California.

    • IMHO the main point is that Finland manages its forests, California bans forest management.

      Details like the equipment used and the climate are secondary.

      • Finns do manage their forest, but not to decrease the biomass in them – instead we do it to increase the biomass instead.

        We do not remove biomass from forests to prevent forest fires. There is simply no need for that due cold and moist climate. Biomass is being removed from young forests to give young trees room to grow and to grow faster.

        Article says: “In addition, throughout the clear-cut area, crews heavily till the soil so that a fire cannot move easily into or through the clear-cut area. This harvesting policy is motivated by the idea that clear-cutting mimics wildfires in pristine forests. ”

        No, we do not do the cleaning of forest floor because of that during the harvests. Forest fires are not a problem in Finland due to climate. The cleaning of clear-cuts are done to get the biomass out of forest to burn it elsewhere – and to get energy. Also cleaning of clear-cuts help the new threes to grow faster. Harvesting policy is simply motivated by an individual owner noticing that the forest is in the harvest age and/or he or she needs some money.

        Clear-cut areas in Finland are pretty small due to fact that ownership of forests are heavily distributed to tens of thousands different owners (individuals, companies, municipalies, government etc). Forest owner might own e.g. 2-10 hectares only.

        • Would the fires in Oregon, Washington, Montana and British Columbia be more comparable? The Pacific NW has, by your description of your climate, similar attributes and seems to have fires every year. I think you are fooling yourself to think pro active forest management has nothing to do with the fires in California, or for that matter, anywhere.

        • Forest owner might own e.g. 2-10 hectares only.

          Or less. The trouble is, once you get under 4 ha (200m x 200m), the tax office will say your forest is not a forest and increase your taxes by a significant sum. You have to pay money to own some land, and pay much more than the area produces.

          Many of the pieces that have been sliced to five owners each 3ha, are not much doing any forestry, so these small pieces often grow pretty wildly.

  13. From what we have read the California wild fire problems are mostly man made not because of any effect man has on climate but entirely due to man’s effect on the local environment.
    The increase in population in California is putting housing into high fire risk regions. That was never a problem before population growth was promoted.
    Then we see roads being reduced in size and capacity to achieve traffic slowing and calming. The recent death toll in Paradise CA has been squarely placed at the door of the local authorities, who reduced the route away from fire from a two lane road through the town to one lane. This done because they wanted to slow the traffic. What it actually did, was create a bottle neck that killed dozens of people, who would otherwise have safely driven away.
    The crazy policies of the Greens/anti car lobbyists are having dramatic negative impacts on lives of normal people. The lawyers are already on their tails, so let’s hope some common sense attitudes come out of this latest Green induced tragedy in California.

    • California recent fires, notably the Paradise section of Camp Fire, is an Urban Interface fire that will dictate rescue evacuation Life Safety before perimeter control. Fire Fighters reference this as the “I Zone”. This fire wind driven with plentiful 1 hour fuels was not going to be controlled with the wind blowing at its intensity force. These fires that threaten human life are becoming a California norm – as urban sprawl takes the building exposure right up to the wildland – urban boundary with none, little or totally ineffective fuel breaks. Paradise CA – my grandfather lived there in the late 40’s to the mid 50’s. He spoke of ‘village’ wants to remain as a small farm leisure residential area. This was a popular sentiment right up to Nov 2018. No clear practical local – state – federal guidelines for Urban Interface. Who is to pay?

  14. file:///C:/Users/bpaul/Downloads/Brownetal_2015_CJFR.pdf

    Doctor Peter Brown, a CSU professor, is one of the experts on historical fires, whose record he reads in scorched tree rings. He notes numerous fires in the history of trees in Boulder Colorado, where he and colleagues constructed a tree ring chronology dating back to 1600. (graph on p. 1466) Nearly a thousand trees were cored from separate hectare-sized plots. The chronology shows that up until settlements were established in the area, fires routinely swept through the forests at all elevations. When the first settlers arrived around 1859 the fires stopped. He concludes this was likely due to livestock grazing. The cessation of this practice seems to be a big contributor to the problem in North America.

    • “When the first settlers arrived around 1859 the fires stopped. He concludes this was likely due to livestock grazing.”

      He concludes When the first settlers arrived around 1859 the fires stopped. He concludes this was likely due to livestock grazing.

  15. The media insist on trying to paint Donald Trump as a stupid, low intelligence man…. The guy is a multi millionaire, entertainment personality who heads a multi national corporation who’s companies have built skyscrapers in just about every city of the world… and he won the Presidency of the United States of America against ALL odds.

    …. He is patently, not a stupid man.

    • The MSM are on a fool’s errand, shrieking daily that The Donald is crueler, stupider, etc. than they are — all the while making cruel, stupid, false claims. Media have degenerated from mere sensationalism to ideology and agenda-driven vendettas. Environmentalism is ideology-driven Gaia worship by city folk who don’t know much about nature. It’s fantasy about what nature ought to be: free-range chickens in an imaginary world with no foxes, or mudslides and fires in an imaginary world with no floods or droughts, skipping through imaginary meadows with no ticks, mosquitos, thorns, or poison ivy.

      It’s not Rome burning while the MSM shriek — Rome, AKA, the major financial, media and political capitals are doing fine. It’s the hinterlands, including mismanaged forests, that are burning. Massive fires are a normal occurrence in the real world, but they can be worsened by neglect. The biggest fires in U.S. history were in the Great Lakes region in the late 19th century. Severe drought in 1871 contributed to a fire that burned a section of Wisconsin five times larger than this year’s CA Camp Fire, and killed 20 times more people. It was the same day as the Chicago fire, which got all the press, because that’s where media is located.

      In 1881, the Michigan Thumb fire also burned an area five times larger than the Camp Fire. The Great Lakes fires were abetted by sloppy forestry practices that left a lot of debris on the ground. Thanks to modern, oil-fired equipment like chain saws, chippers, and the “rakes” used in Finland that Trump recommends, the Upper Great Lakes still have productive forests, with much lower fire risk.

      Screeching about sins against Gaia is less constructive than actually learning about forestry and acting accordingly.

    • Also look at how brilliant he is handling the Russian collusion. With deep state, Mueller, DOJ, FBI and all the other intelligence agencies trying to get him they still have nothing, like I said the man is brilliant. Maybe though its the poor performance of the above that they have been unable to get Trump on collusion and for national security we should be worried about that poor performance.

      Just for record some of this is sarcasm and some isn’t.

  16. Is it possible that ‘Finland has a different climate’ (from California) exactly *because* of the high density of trees and because of the “problem” bogs and wetlands underneath them?

    Is it possible that the extra tree growth they report is because of wind-blown dust coming off highly fertilised farmland around the globe but especially in the Northern Hemisphere?
    Is it possible that the trees are creating rain (using water from the ‘problem bogs) to wash thus dust and dirt out of the atmosphere?

    Is it possible that, again, the extra growth is coming from the (rainfall induced) deposition of water soluble plant nutrients , especially oxides of nitrogen and sulphur.
    Nothing to do with temperature.
    What’s this all about then:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/1403483/British-acid-rain-helps-our-trees-says-Norway.html

    I know I know, not relevant, Norway has a different climate

    Is it possible that the Finns are using these rakes to remove competition from their biggest and best trees, allowing them greater access to light and also air and soil-borne nutrition. A technique used by farmers since The Year Dot, sometimes called ‘hoeing’
    That is: the raking is completely nothing to do with fire & environment protection and more to do with Profit protection?

    Heard the joke about boxes of matches you buy in Ireland?
    No?
    Open a matchbox in Ireland and you will find a collection of blackened and burnt little sticks.
    Why?
    Quality Control at the match factory – they are required to test each and every one to make sure they work.

    So it is with ‘protective burns’ in forests. They make the forest nice and safe but also totally and utterly useless (as forests)
    A protectively burned forest is a useless forest.
    Time for a rethink.

    BTW, what do the Finns *do* with the accumulated rakings.
    PLEASE tell me they don’t burn the stuff.

    PPS has anyone taken a Google Streetview through Paradise, as seen/recorded before it burned.
    See all those power lines knitted through the trees.
    On my Cumbrian farm, I had 11kV power lines and trees and the power company came round every 5 or 6 years and if ANYTHING came within 6 metres (the height of the line above ground) – That Thing Was History

    yet in Paradise, transformers are actually in the trees – why did they even bother with poles?
    Shakes and wanders off, muttering

    • “Is it possible that ‘Finland has a different climate’ (from California) exactly *because* of the high density of trees and because of the “problem” bogs and wetlands underneath them?”

      We are in the zone of the westerly winds from Atlantic and the moist and rains they bring to us. In addition Finland is on the same latitude as Alaska. The climate is also quite comparable with Alaska although we probably have more westerly winds than Alaska and warmer due to Gulf Stream providing as more warm air.

      “Is it possible that the extra tree growth they report is because of wind-blown dust coming off highly fertilised farmland around the globe but especially in the Northern Hemisphere?”

      No, it is mostly because of CO2 fertilization effect.

    • Fertilization – Seems if you keep pulling organic material off the land at some point you have to put something back in.

    • Is it possible that ‘Finland has a different climate’ (from California) exactly *because* of the high density of trees and because of the “problem” bogs and wetlands underneath them?

      In a word, no.

    • One thing we’d have to look at to evaluate your claim about there being little difference in forestry practices is differences in terrain. In that picture of Sweden, raking would not work due to the presence of numerous large boulders.

      • California Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range have lots of boulders here and there. Also much of the area of the 2 mountain groups are far too steep to “rake”. Oh, here and there some ridge top areas flat enough to rake-also log.

        In the days (pre spotted owl vs Old growth) of National Forest 55% sustained yield vs nature let it burn policy creation about 1970 thru to 1992-there about’s, made up data about the spotted owl being killed off by 2nd growth management. All the while government refused to investigate what Private Timber managers were saying. “Wait, the Spotted Owl is doing just fine in our logged over 2nd growth”.

        Washington DC created the lie of all lies – killed 55% yield logging in NF lands, that by terrain practicality would 55% yield the ridge tops – less steep easy logging that would always contribute to a ‘convenient’ unwanted fire control/fuel break checker board.

    • Griff, as usual, is not only lying he is too lazy to actually read the article he links to.
      Here is the money quote grif hoped no one would notice:
      “As Sweden has it’s geographical location in the northern hemisphere and the natural forest types are boreal, coniferous forest of spruce (Picea Abies) and pine (Pinus Sylvestris), forest fires has always been a part of the natural dynamics. Back in time in the late 1900 century, before forest industries had put a value on the wood, it could burn more than 200 000 hectares a year if conditions were dry enough”.
      As always, grid is the troll that just keeps pointing out how climate obsession is damaging to one’s cognitive abilities.

    • Droughts are always climate driven. That’s been true since the earth cooled sufficiently to have a climate.

  17. So once again greens get people killed and property destroyed, and skeptics are correct. And once again President Trump is proven correct.
    And sack of rocks stupid lefties are proven wrong.

  18. TRUMP IS NEVER RIGHT, HE IS LIKE A BROKEN CLOCK WHICH IS RIGHT ONLY BY HAPPENSTANCE. MOVE ON FROM THIS CRIMINAL.

  19. “Back in America, not surprisingly, the exoneration story has been largely ignored”

    You’re lucky – I have neither seen, or heard ANYTHING about this in the UK…

  20. A couple of questions, because I live in an area with a lot of forest preserve that IS managed with an eye toward avoiding fires. Lots of suburban housing around here. One heavily wooded area is awash in maple saplings that could be removed and transplanted elsewhere.

    How many invasive species of plants are removed by Finnish forestry practices and does it help the native species flourish?

    Is new growth, i.e., immature trees, dug out and moved elsewhere to anchor soil and prevent erosion?

    Is any of this done on privately owned land and does the Finnish government provide any kind of help with that?

    Thanks for feedback.

    • “How many invasive species of plants are removed by Finnish forestry practices and does it help the native species flourish?”

      We don’t have problems in the forests with invasive plants. However, Finnish forests mostly based on “farming the trees” (with the exception of natural parks). Basically we tend to have only couple of tree species in the same forest – they are very monotonic in nature. You would probably not use the wording “native species flourish” when speaking of Finnish forests.

      “Is new growth, i.e., immature trees, dug out and moved elsewhere to anchor soil and prevent erosion?”

      No, we don’t do that. After the clean-cut of forest the new trees are planted. Erosion is of no-issue in Finland once again due to climate.

      • You would probably not use the wording “native species flourish” when speaking of Finnish forests.

        Disagree. Planted areas are often planted with single species, but in a bigger picture, Finnish forests are quite diverse. At a smaller scale, you might not see the wood for the trees.

        We don’t have problems in the forests with invasive plants.

        Finland has quite many invasive species contracted, and those usually survive both raking and forest fires. Ever heard of Heracleum persicum? Don’t touch it, it will hurt your skin permanently so that you will need to keep it covered from light.

        After the clean-cut of forest the new trees are planted. Erosion is of no-issue in Finland once again due to climate.

        I’m sure you meant to say erosion is a huge problem according to greens who claim the Baltic Sea is spoiled by phosphorus emissions; but Finland is flat and trees grow easily so erosion is much different than in a dry, mountaineous and sandy environment, that is occasionally flash flooded.

        After the clean-cut of forest the new trees are planted.

        Note that the soil will sprout a lot of saplings in any case. Birch (Betula pubescens), aspen (Populus tremula), ash (Sorbus sp), alder (Alnus incana), willows (Salix sp) spread fast on open areas. Later come spruce (Picea abies) and pine (Pinus sylvestris), which are usually planted to pass the normal succession.

        Small areas are not necessarily planted, because the natural growth will be very fast on good soils. On weak, sandy soils, grown-up pines will germinate well, as long as the ground was well raked.

  21. One of the problems with clearing detritus from logging operations is cost. All of this material can be run through shredders/grinders and used in multiple products and in agriculture, companies have to invest in extra equipment to gather it and transport it, plus the added cost of complying with multiple layers of various regulations. On the other side of the coin here in the states we have multiple layers of regulations and laws which make it even more costly to clear after logging/timbering and make it difficult to impossible to simply clear underbrush in places such as California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Colorado. It is long past time for a sea change in how we handle this in America.

  22. A lot of commentators assume that all the terrain that burns in California is:

    Higher elevation Jeffrey or mixed large pine and cedar
    Flattish hardwood forest (Finland?)
    OR, whatever posters are familiar with.

    The areas that burned in the Camp Fire have no economic value for wood products – we are talking about digger pines, Manzanita, Live Oak, and chaparral. It is so rugged with so few existing roads that grooming or otherwise clearing the vast area is simply unthinkable. I know just how difficult this area is as I have tromped across a fair portion of it. Take look with Google Earth before assuming your idea makes sense.

    It is not remotely possible to clear or groom thousands of square miles of this rugged slope just to protect the communities on the Westside. Buffers near the towns, better emergency plans, maybe change out 100 year old high tension towers, all of that helps. But the lower west side of the Sierra Nevada, and much of rest of California, is always going to be subjected to these kinds of fires. The fuel load is always going to be there, posed and waiting for dry season and wind events. It will be a painful and costly process for PG&E and other utilities (and for us tax and rate payers!) to change their cultures and stop STARTING fires. But that won’t stop the crazy arsonists which we seem to have.

    • The terrain you are describing needs control burned regularly to reduce the occurrence of runaway wildfires. Now that huge tracts have burned begin a program to control burn. Oh, and tell the environtards to shove it.

    • Flattish hardwood forest (Finland?)

      Flat? Yeah, kind of. Only hills, swamps, lakes and rivers.

      It’s pine and spruce mostly. ‘Hardwood’ is not something that grows in Finland. Finnish language used to refer to ‘noble wood’ (meaning mostly tropical hard wood species), and the rest was just ‘wood’, or local wood, which meant softwood, or birch, which was considered ‘hard’. Oaks were almost completely collected away by the Swedish kings 400 years ago, and the LIA didn’t quite let them reproduce. They’re still rare all but the very south. But spruce grows, in 30-60 years it is decent-sized, and timber and paper is produced from it.

      It is not remotely possible to clear or groom thousands of square miles of this rugged slope just to protect the communities on the Westside.

      It is much more possible if one tries, and not says it can’t be done as that would kill the delta smelt or something.

      AND raking is not quite the only way to remove way too high fuel load. I think many suggest controlled fires.

  23. What is the cost comparison for correcting California’s forest issues with the possibility of removing fossil fuels from the world’s use? Maybe several orders of magnitude?

  24. There is another factor which may not be so prevalent in Finland. In CA foothills you will notice they tend to build on ridges flanked by deep cuts. No one maintains these gorges and they act as a chimney in a fire.

    Also this failure to manage these areas leads to more invasions of borers and such and much more deadwood.

  25. Fear of forest wildfires motivated an expensive clearing of North Vancouver residential forests around 2008. The idea was to remove burnable undergrowth and convert these forests into something looking more like an old growth forest where the canopy would naturally limit the burnables on the ground. I watched crews using rakes and other tools for removal of the chopped undergrowth.
    Trump Derangement Syndrome strikes again.

    https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/be-careful-tinder-dry-north-shore-forests-overdue-for-a-big-wildfire-warn-residents-and-fire-officials

  26. One must be careful with the term “clear cutting”. The sense in this post clearing and thinning, but in the American West it has another meaning; cutting down the entire forest.

  27. Forty plus years ago I visited a state park in Southern Indiana. I still remember walking through this forest in amazement of the pine (fir?) trees that were more than 100 feet tall with no branches until the top 25 feet or so. Each were as straight and as tall as the largest and tallest wooden power pole I had ever seen on the side of the road. The ground below was as clean and as clear as any park and covered with the fallen pine needles. Further the trees were far enough apart that you could drive a car between the trees. The tree canopy was so thick there were few weeds, however, there were occasional woods flowers. All provided by Nature.

  28. CA is in complete denial, again. For those of you that attended public schools in CA, I have a newsflash for you: You are between the ocean and the desert. The ocean provides the moisture to create the fuel, and the desert provides the dry weather to cure and ignite the firewood. Every year you have ripe conditions for wildfire, under every climate that we know of. Blaming the climate is stupid, but that is what passes for logic in CA these days.
    Raking is not the answer because the terrain is too rocky and steep. The answer is fuel management, through controlled burns, during periods where the air moisture content is high, and the winds are low. The same moisture that feeds the growth of fuel can be used to control it.
    The hot dry winds that drive the fires are a normal aspect of the area, and have not changed in recorded history. You want to be prepared before they happen. That way you have containment, when the inevitable occurs.
    As long as making excuses is your solution, you will have no solution. Might as well burn a witch or two, and you will get the same results. If you go that route, start with your elected officials, who were supposed to be managing this situation, instead of spending your tax money on non-citizens.

    • Russ R.,

      The problem with controlled burns is the folks who conduct them. Many of the fires I have observed after the fact have been allowed to kill the trees among which the fire burns. Intellectually challenged gaia worshippers don’t seem to understand that hot grass fires will, in effect, boil the sap in a living tree which will subsequently die from the experience and become more flammable fuel for the next fire.

      I think that the Carr Fire experience should lead us to brush and digger pine clearing, perhaps in long swaths, to create fire breaks. The material removed, mulched, could be collected for use in cogen plants. My vision is alternating bare and growing belts that could by harvested on a rotating basis. No, it won’t pay for itself, but the cogen feedstock could offset some of the cost. The real payoff is in fewer fatalities and catastrophic destruction of habitat and homes. Perhaps some of the cost could be born by the fire insurance premiums paid by the people living in the zones. Or perhaps a job for the Civilian Conservation Corps who used to do such work.

      The other benefit of some of this kind of work in Northern California could be the planting of Native Species in the mulched zones that might be less fire prone than the digger pines and manzanita that burn so readily.

      As far as raking goes, California still has a requirement to provide defensible space around houses and outbuildings in the forest. Part of the problem with almost all cities in California is the creation of an urban forest environment due to tree and bush planting adjacent to houses. The infamous Oakland Hills fire was a eucalyptus forest fire among the houses. The Camp Fire as it went through Paradise was a brush/grass fire that was wind driven through town wiping out houses, but leaving many of the trees in the Urban Forest behind. We need to enforce the defensible space rules already in place.

      PBH

      • Just because some people don’t know how to do controlled burns, doesn’t make them a bad idea. The public will grow weary of clearing the fuel by hand, because it is dirty slow work, that does not provide a tangible value. The area is too vast to do it by hand, although it is the preferred solution in residential areas, in addition to raking those areas.
        Wild fires need a constant source of new fuel, and the wind to drive them into that fuel. Fire breaks give the fighters a “line of defense” that can keep the fire contained, when it is blown into a no fuel area.
        There is plenty of opportunity to start your methods in areas around current housing, and try to push it out into remote areas. I think you find a “lack of enthusiasm” for that, which means most of the area needs to be burnt in a controlled manner, on an on-going basis.

        • “clearing the fuel by hand, because it is dirty slow work,” Which makes it perfect for the 100s of thousands of convicts in Kali. Repay their debt to society by giving service to Mother Gaia! Win-Win.

    • ^ +1

      The problem with Kali is that the fires there are unavoidable, and the *more* rain they’ll get, the more fuel grows.

      The only way is to collect wood that is collectable, raking or without, and burn what is left from wide enough areas so that random fires don’t ash the whole place. And really, they need escape routes, safe areas and better fire prevention regulation. At such an area, buildings must not change into torches just like bricks are not a good idea in a hurricane.

      Adapt to your weather! Adapt to your *past* climate.

  29. Now I have read about 80% of the fires in California are man caused?

    About Norway and its climate not indicative to fires, well have a look at Russia, Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta the rest of Canada. They have fires, some very large and destructive, so Norway and its climate for reducing fires does not fit.

    The coast of British Columbia is a heavily forested maritime climate, not Mediterranean like California is in most areas. This BC area gets lots of rain and snow but can dry over the summer and was the domain of the huge Mars water bombers for fifty years. Guess why those big expensive water bombers where kept around that long? Disclaimer they are no longer used because of turbine powered aircraft and politics, mainly politics.

  30. They have been raking the forest near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. They also know where the good money is.

  31. For all of those not familiar with the West Coast more less where the Camp Fire was I recommend watching Juan Brown on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuTt-wWvREk. Both aerial and ground video of the Camp Fire.
    Clear cut logging is done for a couple of reasons. One is that the tree species most desired are pioneer types that require bare soil for seed regeneration and full sun for growth. A second reason is the harvest area needs to be large enough to cover the costs associated with building road and complying with State requirements and to make a profit.

  32. We Finns do something right because Sweden and especially North-West Russia have similar climate and soil as we have but they have much more forest fires.

  33. I worked as a Forester for the BLM back several decades. The use of a “rake” for removing wood waste after clear cutting and put into piles to be burned. Its use was to reduce the amount of burnable material, and prepare site for new forest. We would have never let those shown in in the videos about on any of our clear cuts as the would have piled up too much dirt in the piles. The ones we used had 3 to 4′ finders which let the soil/dirt fall out as the woody material was raked up. Also tree stomps were not removed, left there with root in tack to hold the soil till new forest came. I suspect that is what is used in Finland.

    After 10 years of having wood waste (slash) piled and burned, we decide on going a different way. We had the contractor use a roller chopper (a 5-6′ round cylinder with foot line tines sticking out around it and 10 plus feet wide). It allowed the slash to be chopped in place, opened up mineral soil for seeds, and reduce the fire hazards.

    I agree that much of the land in CA that is being burned is non-commercial forest land. Too steep or not growing a commercial tree species. When I was in college back the 60’s it was well know that much of the brush covered lands in CA were burning on a 10 year cycle. These are the lands that many have moved into and now have their homes burnt. Though from the pic’s of Paradise, there were homes among trees of commercial size and species.

    • Finland’s President Sauli Niinistro says that Finland does not rake its forests and has no idea where Trump got that idea. He says that Finland has an extensive surveillance system for fires — that’s all.

Comments are closed.