Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Thursday, December 08, 2005
 
Shade Keeps Things Wet

My friend Vrnda Normand has an article in the San Jose Metro News aboout Los Gatos Canyon residents fighting the San Jose Water Company's plan to log trees in the watershed behind their houses. The Water Company claims that the logging will improve the area's fire-safety, but the residents contend that it will actually render their homes much more vulnerable to fire damage. Vrnda spells out the reasons behind an intuitive "huh?" I've always had about fire-safety plans that centered on severely thinning out forests:
Threatening the forest canopy: This is the most direct and obvious impact to the environment, resident opponents say, because San Jose Water, in contract with Davenport-based Big Creek Lumber, aims to cut the largest and most valuable trees. This includes redwoods and Douglas firs at least 1 foot in diameter, some as thick as 4 feet. Steve Staub, a forestry consultant in the Santa Cruz Mountains, estimates that redwoods in this size range could yield $40 to $2,000 each in timber.
These trees, many over 300 feet tall, form a high layer over the rest, shading it from sunlight so the underbrush doesn't dry out and become more fire-prone. Breaks in the canopy's shade also feed invasive plants like brush, which are the most likely to burn. Added to this fuel factor could be up to 30 inches of "slash" or branches and needles left over after the tree trunks are removed. Furthermore, redwoods are known to be fire-resistant—a thick grove of them can help curb a wild blaze.
Even if you have no ties to the area, which is very beautiful because of these trees, it's an interesting look at the intersection of land management, public utilities, and neighborhood activism. Check it out.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
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Dave Barry
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Indeterminacy
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InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
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Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
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Corey Pein
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Kevin G. Powell
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Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
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Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
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Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
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Tech Policy
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To The Teeth
TreeHugger
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Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
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Yglesias:Tpmcafe

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Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

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Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

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Scott McCloud


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