November 16, 2009 (Cuyamaca) -- Personnel from Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, in cooperation with CAL FIRE, will conduct a controlled burn on Middle Peak north of Cuyamaca Peak on Wednesday. Smoke and flames will be visible from many areas in the county due to high altitude location. Residents in Ramona will have an especially clear view, although the burn is many miles away. The burn will begin about 9 a.m. and should conclude by 4 p.m., with patrol operations continuing for several days. Due to many dead trees in the burn area, smoke may continue to be visible for several days after the burn is completed.
The purpose of this burn is to clear 70 acres of vegetation and make the area ready for planting of 20,000 tree seedlings early next year as part of ongoing reforestation efforts in the Park. Removal of this vegetation will not only make the job of planting easier, but allow the seedlings a much better chance of survival by reducing competition for sunlight and scarce water. Removal of dead trees will also assist in the reforestation efforts and help to make the Park safer for visitors.
While the vast majority of controlled burns help prevent more devastating fires by removing brush during favorable weather conditions, controlled burns have sparked some recent controversy. The Loma Fire, which burned 435 areas near Santa Cruz in October, may have been caused by a controlled burn, fire officials have reported.
http://www.firehouse.com/topic/wildland/controlled-burns-may-have-caused-calif-wildfire. In 2000, a controlled burn that flared out of control charred 37,000 acres near Los Alamos. http://speakout.com/activism/issue_briefs/1359b-1.html. Locally, a controlled burn during the 2007 Poomacha Fire has been blamed on loss of a home and damage to other properties, eyewitnesses have informed East County Magazine.
East County Magazine is notifying our subscribers about this controlled burn via the Viejas Wildfire & Emergency alert e-mail system. If you have not yet signed up, just click the "subscribe" button at the top right of our homepage. Subscriptions are free, and you will never receive any junk mail -- only alerts about major fires or other regional emergencies in San Diego County.
Even on Middle Peak--the most badly burned area in Cuyamaca--the deciduous trees are bouncing back nicely. Most of the trees above ground were destroyed by the fire, but the extensive root systems the left behind--the trees underground, as it were--have sent up thousands of "volunteers", some of of which are already over ten feet high. These young trees give are just the beginning of what will soon be a tremendous hardwood forest. I do hope that every precaution is being taken to unsure their safety during the planned burn.
When does control become out-of-control? Is control always possible, or might an element of risk always exist? Human beings cannot control the whims of the wind. And what happens with the wind will determine who is in control, right?
Any thoughts, anyone?
6 years after the devastating Cedar fire it appears the State is beginning to think differently about fire preventon. Had they done this prior to the Cedar fire, Cuyamaca State Park might have been saved. I am pleased to hear that seedlings will be planted in spite of the desire by the naturalists to just let nature take it's course. I may never see the results of the reforestation at maturity but have seen other areas where this has worked well. Locally, the Laguna fire of 1970 is a good example. The Penny Pines reforestation worked well except for the bark beetle problems of late. Yellowstone N.P. also is a good example of a failed naturalist policy but it too is coming back many years later. Maybe my grandchildren will see Cuyamaca as I saw it before the big fire.