fire maps

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There was a start to a fire in Hopland last night, which they of course jumped on so fast Hopland's head is still spinning, and I hear there's another fire down in the Santa Cruz area today. I'm going to guess it will be the same story there, but you never know. Lots and lots and lots of areas in Northern California have been too choked with underbrush for too long.

The only thing they ever do to "mitigate" half the time exacerbates instead, and that is their infamous "controlled burns"... and you can't do that shit around pines and eucalyptus and scrub oak... not to even mention all the poison oak laced around every single thing that gets any sun to it at all.

People always take refuge in the fact that ash from fires replenishes the soil. Only a little, and only where the fire was not so hot it rendered into virtual sand, when going in and slashing that understory and cutting down the dangerous trees, chipping it all and blowing it back onto the landscape would be the single best soil amendment —short of seeding it with compost worms and adding blood meal and green sand — which would be loving and lavish in the extreme — we could possibly do to keep our environment fit and resistant to conflagration.

I was talking yesterday to a guy who lives up in pine woodlands and he says their feds are very careful to manage them well, because pines explode, even though our native pine is much less dangerous than all the pine imported from Japan people buy to plant around their houses and golf courses and scenic byways. They buy those because they grow fast. Well they suck big time because they have very short tap roots, explode in fires and become dangerous when they've gotten too tall for their taproots. People have to cut them all the way down when they're not even very old.

Same with eucalyptus, only it's poisonous to other plants and lays down a huge swath of constantly falling poisonous and very flammable duff wherein only eucalyptus can grow. You want only real oak species and real California conifer species and non-exploding ornamental trees anywhere near populated areas.

I don't know where the tan oak, aka scrub oak, came from, but even it is from here, it needs to go. I think I recall being told it was a species that's only ever supposed to be a bush, but grows into trees here. Maybe I dreamed that, or misunderstood, but whatever. It's shit and it's almost unerringly ugly with all kinds of crap things getting stuck in it and hanging off it and sickly and covered with crud and its duff makes slopes so slippery you could start a duff skiing resort on it... and just plain makes every single fire ten times worse than it would have been without it.

Evergreen real oak trees are good... give shade for the cows. Don't drop tons of sick oaky offal everywhere. Are not as prone to exploding in fires. Fine specimens we can be proud of... even if... in the real beginning... this entire landmass we call California nowadays was 100% redwood forest with meadows of perennial grass and year-round streams. Can't happen again, or not for millennia, so we concentrate on what we can do now.

On my way home yesterday I saw a little group of completely black cows napping under an oak tree in their pasture. One of them had her head straight up, eyes open, looking confused, and I think it's because her shade had moved away and she couldn't figure it out that the sun had awakened her from her snooze. Do I get up and have a nice mellow graze or do I scooch over there where my shade ran to?

pipe up any time....