TERU Focus Report - Angora Fire Retrospective
IFWG Field Trip to Angora Fire Area, Lake Tahoe Basin
October 15, 2010 -- Michael Theroux
The Interagency Forest Working Group
(IFWG) got about 30 of its members in a bus on October 1, 2010, and
drove to the south end of the Lake Tahoe Basin for a day of high-level "What We've Learned" discussions as we
walked through the devastated area of the Angora Fire of 2007. Speakers included California Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the US Forest Service, University scientists, and Basin planning staff,
some of whom lost homes among the 260+ structures destroyed and most all were on the ground for the fire. Some
of my personal THMs (take home messages):
After decades of contention, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has become an active
collaborative member of the multi-state, multi-agency socio-economic and environmental planning and oversight
mechanism for the Basin. It took something as devastating as the Angora Fire to accomplish that feat, but the
challenge now will be to continue to
rely on this science-based collaboration.
Now that we have PRC 4291 as an excellent "motivator" for Defensible Space within the
Wildland - Urban Interface (lovingly called the WUI), it was most fascinating to learn that in many cases the
cleared property areas were MOST effective in keeping the surrounding forest safe, rather than the structures on
the property. Homes constructed of fire-resistant materials in the path of the fire were frequently untouched,
as fire-prone structures torched each other in progression. Clearly, we must have
fire-safe buildings, along with
fire safe vegetation management.
There are indeed "wastes" that are generated in our forests as a result of
their beneficial use and management. As is characteristic of any unmanaged waste, when an excess of biomass
is allowed to accumulate, it becomes a problem all around. Whether or not our society can agree on timber
harvesting - vs - preservation as pre-eminent policy on National Forest land management, we appear to be
in general consensus that biomass waste management is an environmentally sound and highly needed function.
Focusing on access, aggregation, removal and beneficial use of what we can indeed designate as "Biomass
Waste" can provide a clear path to at least one significant biomass feedstock, for conversion to
energy, fuels and other commodities.
Interagency collaboration is critical, but must be extended to
full public/private participation in a structured "Forest Stewardship" model to create and perpetuate stakeholder
The IFWG continues to draw disparate
parties into consensus-building forest management alliances, as the very basis of national forest land
management remains under intense scrutiny. IFWG was created within California's' Climate Action Team (CAT) program following the Governor's California
Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
© Teru Talk by JDMT, Inc 2010. All rights
You are free to reprint and use this report as long as no
changes are made to its content or references and credit is given to the author, Michael Theroux.