FT 18
The 2013 Rim Fire – Forest Management Influencing Fire Ecology

Friday, August 15, 2014: 7:00 AM-7:00 PM
J Street Entrance, Sacramento Convention Center
Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist, USDA Forest Service
Eric Winford, Ecologist, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks; Gus Smith, Fire Ecologist, Yosemite National Park; Jan van Wagtendonk, USGS Yosemite Field Station; Kent van Wagtendonk, Geographer, Yosemite National Park; Becky L. Estes, US Forest Service; and Susan L. Ustin, University of California Davis
This is a two-day field trip to Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park to witness and discuss the impacts and behavior of the 2013 Rim Fire as it crossed vegetation types, land ownership, and management practices. At over 257,000 acres, the Rim Fire is the Sierra Nevada’s largest recorded fire and it burned through an elevation gradient of foothill chaparral, mixed conifer, a sequoia grove, red fir forest, ending in the lodgepole pine. It both created and destroyed habitat for wildlife species ranging from the California spotted owl to pacific fisher to the black-backed woodpecker. It produced smoke that affected air quality in communities nearby as well as those over 100 miles away. The fire moved through land managed by two federal agencies with different management practices and objectives for fire management as well as for rehabilitation and recovery. It is essentially a large experiment in forest management, and will change the way forests are managed in the area for decades to come. Topics to be covered include: fire ecology (understanding fire severity, fire size, and the components of this large fire), wildlife habitat, wildfires in the context of climate change (is this the new normal?), forest management, air quality, and land management practices of two federal agencies.

We will visit a variety of sites, staying at at each stop for roughly 2 hours to listen to selected speakers (30 minutes), ask questions (30 minutes), and take a self-guided walk (30 minutes).

Registration Fee: $145

Equipment and Attire: Hiking boots, sun screen, bug repellant, hat, water bottles (at least 2 quarts), small backpack for water, food and other essentials, long pants and long sleeve shirts recommended as protection against sun and poison oak. We will walk around sites to view aspects of the fire, which could include walking over uneven terrain with logs and other obstacles. Temperatures in the area can reach as high as 100 degrees during the day-time, sun protection and adequate water are essential!

Itinerary: Day 1, Meet in Sacramento at 0700 1030 – Arrive at Groveland Ranger District, meet USFS and NPS representatives. Leave by 1100 1115 – Arrive at Rim of the World, have lunch at overlook, leave by 1230. Discuss context, local geography, climate, air quality, and the situation on the ground. Discuss fire origins and spread in those initial days. 1300 – Arrive at Tuolumne River and Granite/Cherry Creeks Confluence, Stanislaus National Forest, leave by 1500. Discuss fire history and ecological effects on vegetation in the Rim Fire in an area that has had very active fires in the past 110 years. 1530 – Arrive at Cherry Lake, Stanislaus National Forest, leave by 1730. Discuss forest management and fire behavior in plantations established after the 1973 Granite Fire. Numerous plantations were thinned just prior to the Rim Fire, which affected fire behavior. 1800 – Drive to Groveland. Get to hotels, have dinner, gather for night-time event. Continue discussion on all topics. Day 2 0830 - Meet at vans. Breakfast on your own. 0930 – Arrive at Aspen Valley, Yosemite National Park. Leave by 1130. Visit a site where we can contrast how the Rim Fire burned through an area previously treated with prescribed fire to previously unburned areas. 1200 – Arrive at Crane Flat, Yosemite National Park, have lunch at vantage point, leave by 1430. Visit a firing operation that took place during the fire; look at a variety of fire effects through old growth forest. Discuss the impacts of the fire and the firing operations to wildlife habitat. 1500 – Arrive at Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, leave by 1700. Discuss fire behavior as the fire moved toward a grove of giant sequoia trees and how fire fighters defended the grove by burning it on their terms. 1900 - Return to Sacramento.

See more of: Field Trips