Driving up Sonora Pass late in January 2007, clearing 8,000 feet I came to the padlocked closure gate. I parked my car in the empty parking lot and took a look at the spellbinding view around me. For as far as the eyes could see in the top peaks of the Sierra's, in the dead of winter there was no snow. What replaced snow was a hot blazing controlled burn. These controlled burns, which have escaped the eyes of the vigilant California citizens, are easy to see beyond. One only has to look at the replacement of the director of the national Stanislaus forests goal: 31 million board feet to replace the 25 million board feet harvested the year before. Under the guise of conservation, these intense controlled burns for salvage logging have increases rapidly under the Bush administration. There was not one but many controlled burns throughout the Sonora pass region that winter. Fat lot it did. Kennedy meadows still burned. But, meanwhile, it did change temperatures in the forest and with so many set at once in a warm winter it was impossible to create snow like conditions in the forests. The rivers dried up in late June, water was cut off from the small town of strawberry and the surrounding regions. This was about 4,000 feet. In Tioga Pass, it was a large erosion of ancient glaciers to make a trickle in the Tuolumne Meadows river. These passes, which are close in proximity, were surrounded by controlled burns all year. If we do not learn any other kind of preservation or forest management our state will be in peril. This technique goes against the grain of logic and is being employed for widespread timber companies and little else.
It was not a shock to me to read that it was a controlled burn in Florida, that spiraled out of control that created the 70 car pile up and took four lives. This terrible trajedy was averse and could have been prevented by a simple forecast. A simple understanding of science. But with administration appointees who are less for preservation but for pumping up our timber harvests, it is easy why such ignorance is widespread.