Will Harling and the Tribal experts are spot on in Orleans (“Slow Burn,” July 3). The closer out-of-area wildland fire teams work with the likes of the Mid Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) and Karuk Tribe experts, the better. Our own local resources spread thin, out-of-area fire fighters coming in can be a blessing, especially when homesteads and such are threatened. However, when it comes to working in the steep, forested uplands they may be only as good as their willingness to tap into the local expertise that MKWC, the Karuk, the community and the more tuned-in USFS staff can provide.
In addition, we may need less out-of-area fire “fighters” and a larger, more localized workforce who can get out in the field and apply sound fire-science and ecosystem management principles on a year-round basis (snowpack allowing). A well-funded work program along the lines of the original CCC of the Depression era ’30s could be a useful tool to this end, especially if participants are paid a truly livable wage in an area where livable wages are a thing of the past, if ever. Socialist and subsidized tax-and-spend workforce gimmick, some might say? Idealist? Whatever. In some areas, something akin to a Federal Forest Fire-Industrial complex has employed some suspect salvage-logging practices: healthy old growth and habitat snags carted off; road-building into roadless areas and subsequent road degradation effects on salmonids; and, in some cases, even-age replanting of conifers contributing to increased catastrophic fire potential at a later date.
So, imagine all the knowledge, expertise and capacity that could arise with a well-funded, localized workforce applying good science in our local forests. When fire-related requirements get increasingly met month-to-month and year-to-year, with fire employed and/or managed consciously, then said work program staff can assist in fisheries restoration, the maintenance of wilderness trail systems, and maybe the development of visitor-friendly small businesses up and down those big river valleys. Imagine: healthy forests, a skilled workforce, clean water, the return of mom-and-pop businesses, accessible wilderness, even a little timber extraction, where appropriate and in concert with all interests, using something like the Forest Stewardship Council model. And, some day, fish. Lots and lots of fish. Imagine.
— CJ Turner, Arcata-Orleans
Sweet Spot:*CJ Turner wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.*