Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

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AdamW
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Re: Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by AdamW »

mikesplain wrote:It's worth noting that the USFS has deliberately left this scoping letter
(and reportedly, the upcoming Notice of Intent) somewhat vague.
The agency says that public comments will guide the specifics
and so the importance of submitting YOUR comments cannot be overemphasized!
I noticed that too. So many issues to be covered, such as:

Will fuelbreaks be taken down to bare mineral soil? And what triggers the need to re-clear a fuelbreaks?
Do fuelbreaks guarantee that the Wilderness will never see bulldozers?
How much safer are or will be the communities with and without fuelbreaks?

or the issues gfelsman brought up.

I see the vagueness as a good thing- citizens can help guide the process.

And as Tom said, fortunately we have two pieces of legislation to help with the process: NEPA and the Wilderness Act.

But I worry that in the end, the caveat could be whether or not the project gets the funding.
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mikesplain
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Re: Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by mikesplain »

It's worth noting that the USFS has deliberately left this scoping letter
(and reportedly, the upcoming Notice of Intent) somewhat vague.
The agency says that public comments will guide the specifics
and so the importance of submitting YOUR comments cannot be overemphasized!

Also note that two scoping meetings have been scheduled-
1) King City (Monterey Ranger District office on Mildred), Tues, Dec. 4, 5:30-7:30PM
2) Big Sur Multi-Agency Facility (aka Big Sur Station), Thurs, Dec. 6, 5:30-7:30PM
USFS personnel, including a botanist and landscape designer familiar with the proposed fire lines will be on hand to answer questions.
The Monterey Ranger District Resource Officer will be there to accept written comments.
If you could make it to either meeting, King City would be the obvious choice as it will certainly be less crowded.

Comments will also be accepted via US Mail and email for 45 days (~mid-January).
At that point, an Environmental Impact Statement detailing several alternative courses of action will be prepared.
The EIS could easily take a year to complete, so keep sending in comments even if it's past the "official" cut-off date.

If you care about how Wilderness is managed
(and not just the Ventana and Silver Peak, as there is a potential for across-the-board precedent here)
PLEASE be sure to comment on how/where you think presuppression fire lines should/should not be constructed.

Stay tuned for more information as it arises, and feel free to drop me a line if you have questions- mike(at)ventanawild(dot)org
Tom Hopkins
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Re: Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by Tom Hopkins »

At the core of this issue is the 1964 Wilderness Act and its purpose to preserve America’s remaining wilderness in perpetuity. To accomplish that a definition of wilderness was crafted and limits set on how designated wilderness is to be managed. Although beautifully and wisely crafted, like other laws, the Wilderness Act is subject to interpretation. Therein lies the rub. The issue at hand is also subject to the National Environmental Protection Act which establishes the procedure by which actions on public land are analyzed to identify environmental impacts that may be caused by the proposed action. Management activities in designated Wilderness are subject to NEPA which gives the public opportunity to participate in the decision making that affects protected Wilderness Areas. A basic understanding of The Wilderness Act and of NEPA will help the public better understand what effects the proposed action may have on the Ventana Wilderness and how their individual views can be heard. The links below provide helpful explanations of these two pieces of keystone environmental legislation.

The Wilderness Act Handbook published by The Wilderness Society: http://wilderness.org/sites/default/fil ... mplete.pdf

A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA published by the Council on Environmental Quality:
http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/Citizens_Guide_Dec07.pdf
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gfelsman
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Re: Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by gfelsman »

Looking at the letter I am relatively ignorant on some of these areas.

Howerver there are definitley some issues that should be addressed.

1. With well maintained firebreaks as these, there may be in increase of motorized ATVs or motorcycles in the Area.
2. Mountain Cyclists may also see this and decide they can ride the fire breaks if they are not already doing so on the Coast Ridge Road sections.
3. As far as chainsaws in the wilderness there are goods and bads.
A. They do pollute. However in Yosemite Wilderness they use chainsaws with Orange oil to minimize impact. They have also found that if they use chainsaws on the trails, less environmental damage is done by keeping people on existing trails.
B. If they would use 4 Stroke Chain saws polluiton would be minimized. Unfortunately, they do weigh more.
C. In today's dollars the use of chain saws or even an power hedger may make sense to keep many of the more poplular trails open for a safer and more pleasant experience.
4. Yes, we want to maintain the wilderness to the best of our ability and prevent motorized/mechanized access.
5. In the end, the use of chainsaws or any other mechanized equipment in the wilderness needs to be weighed against the task at hand, risk to individuals doing the work and should go through the proper channels before they are applied.

As we have seen on the Vicente Flat and Cone Peak Trails there were many snags that could not of been cleared without chainsaws or some other non convential means of removal. It was a good decision to use these more aggressive methods for the safety of the workers and visitors to the area.

Take Care and Happy Hiking
We will see how this turns out.
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jack_glendening
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Re: Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by jack_glendening »

I personally am willing to in principle allow fuelbreaks be part of a "community" (in a wider sense, not being limited to environmentalist/ wilderness advocates) consensus effort to deal with fires and their effects, and foresee that use of chainsaws might be a practical necessity. But actual specifics are also important, e.g. their location and length, and need to be addressed.

But in any case, I hope that arguments and discussions will be based upon what is actually on the table, not fears of some "possible" results and hence using emotion instead of facts. Looking at the current political climate, I see too much fear-mongering where each side claims that making a small change will open the floodgates to a wave, so neither side is willing is willing to take any step at all towards compromise.

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
Tom Hopkins
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Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:38 pm

Chainsaws and Fuelbreaks in the Ventana?

Post by Tom Hopkins »

The Forest Service has issued a Proposed Action to construct 24 miles of fuelbreaks on the Monterey Ranger District with approximately 7.5 miles of constructed fuelbreaks in the Ventana Wilderness Area. The fuelbreaks would follow traditional firebreak lines built during past wildfire suppression emergencies. The proposed fuelbreaks would be up to 150 feet wide.

Initial work to establish the wilderness fuelbreaks would utilize chainsaws as the “minimum tool.” The FS proposal makes clear that they anticipate that chainsaws would also be the “minimum tool” for future maintenance of the wilderness fuelbreaks due to economic limitations.

If the permanent use of chainsaws for fuelbreak construction and maintenance in the Ventana Wilderness becomes standard, won’t the next step be to use chainsaws for trail maintenance as well? Is the wilderness community ready for permanent use of chainsaws in the Ventana Wilderness?

The Forest Service has not yet posted the proposal documents on the internet, however PDF copies are attached.
Ventana Fuelbreaks Scoping Letter.pdf
(237.2 KiB) Downloaded 123 times
Ventana Fuelbreaks Project Map.pdf
(446.29 KiB) Downloaded 127 times
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