Once again, I am in the throes of competing book editing projects. I barely have time to eat, much less to write. So I will share some of the sights from recent summer outings.
During August I volunteered to serve food at the Idaho Rivers United Salmon Festival in Stanley, Idaho. It was a lovely weekend, despite threatening fires that burned out of control on two different fronts near Stanley. We were lucky to have some lovely, nearly smoke-free hours.
It is humbling to be so close to such destruction. The fire closest to Stanley, is the Halstead fire which burned less than 20 miles north of town. It was lightning caused and burns yet today. It will not be put out till the snow flies. Although the destruction has been enormous, the inconveniences many, so far, I don’t believe any personal property has been lost, thanks the remarkable efforts and skill of the fire fighters. (Yes, folks, our TAX DOLLARS at work!)
The Trinity Ridge fire, burning southeast of Stanley, is reported to be man-caused. This fire has burned perilously close to two small residential backwoods communities, one of which was evacuated for several days. Miraculously, it appears that both communities and all private property have been saved. Several Forest Service buildings were damaged.
These fires, and the others that are burning in Idaho and around the west, are part of a natural cycle. They are probably far larger and more aggressive than normal for a number of reasons:
- Years and years of fire suppression in the National Forests has lead to a buildup of fuel: dead and dying trees. It is widely believed that smaller, more frequent natural fires would burn dead matter, thus opening space for sunlight to promote new rich, green growth.
- A rampant outbreak of disease has killed acres and acres of trees in the mountain forests. The Mountain Pine Beetle bores into the bark of lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, western white pine, and whitebark pine to feed and lay eggs. These are the very tree varieties found abundantly in Idaho forests.
- Extended drought has made the trees more susceptible to insect damage, further contributing to forests ripe for monstrous fires.
Natural or not, these fires are frightening. The information I have provided is simply a layman’s understanding of some of the many issues involved. I frankly care little about human property at risk in the forest. My heart anguishes, though, for the wildlife.
Two weeks after the Salmon Festival, I returned to the mountains, for a Labor Day weekend outing at Deadwood Reservoir. It was peaceful and relaxing, and once again, we were blessed to be smoke free.
And what the heck? I thought I was just going to slap some images up and call it good. Time to muzzle my fingers and get back to work.
Thanks for your patience with my on and off blogging routine these days!