Rebuilding following a fire is a slow process, according to a national study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Only a quarter of homes are replaced within the first five years after a fire. “Building in the wildland-urban interface is fraught with peril and not just because homes and lives could be lost. The chances of sparking a wildfire is greatest near roads and homes,” said Patrícia M. Alexandre, one of the study’s authors. “This is one big reason we worry about more building, because people aren’t just building in a fire-prone environment; they increase the fire probability in that region,” she said.
Despite current efforts to manage the latest bark beetle outbreak killing millions of trees throughout the state, experts say the beloved pines of the Sierra Nevada may be dominated more by oaks, cedars and other types of trees that are better adapted to survive a drier, warmer climate.
The Upper Mokelumne River Watershed got some financial help last week. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy last week approved a $500,000 grant that will support restoration of meadows and thinning of overgrown forests in the Pumpkin Hollow area not far from Cabbage Patch on Highway 4.
This year, California is again experiencing large wildfires that threaten lives, property, wildlife habitat and water quality. Climate change, four years of drought, a century of fire suppression, and the state’s failure to stem rural sprawl have created the elements necessary for the perfect firestorm. Something has to change. But what?