Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Prepared by Carol W. LaGrasse, President

Background Information
Adirondack Blowdown Policy

Predicted Wildfire Behavior According to DEC's November 1995 Report
(using "Logging Slash Group (Models 11, 12 and 13)," equivalent to the amount of debris in the blowdown area)

"... In Model 13 fires, fire is carried across the area by a continuous layer of fuels, as fires spread quickly through the fine fuels and intensity builds as the larger fuels start burning. Active flaming is sustained for long periods of time and a wide variety of fire brands can be generated, contributing to spotting problems. Clearcuts and heavy cuts in mature and over-mature stands are depicted where the load is dominated by the greater than 3-inch material. Fires occurring in this fuel model are generally uncontrollable with conventional fire suppression tactics..."
"DEC utilizes mathematical modeling to predict fire spread rate, intensity, and other relevant output data.
"... The weather variables entered into the modeling are on the dry, warm range of expected weather. While this is not an every week occurrence in the affected area, these weather thresholds are frequently met in the summer months. The output data indicate a wind driven surface fire occurring under these assumed weather and slope conditions may enter into an accelerated stage and become plume dominated. This is a wild fire behavior stage where the intensity of the main fire front creates its own micro-climatic weather. It would burn at this level until fuels are consumed to the point where localized weather conditions can once again affect fire behavior.
"The fire characteristic charts reveal that given the input data for the various slope conditions and using fuel moisture of 12 percent and windspeeds of 15 miles per hour the predicted fire behavior will exceed direct mechanical suppression efforts."
pp.25, 26 - New York State DEC Adirondack Windstorm Report, November 20, 1995 - Draft

DEC's Inconsistency in its "Assessment of Wildfire Risk"

"The risk of large, spreading wildfire is relatively remote with proper planning for fire suppression and adequate funding to provide for early detection of fire, equipment and people to fight fires."
p27 - New York State DEC Adirondack Windstorm Report, November 20, 1995 - Draft

The Great Adirondack Fires:
Eye Witness Account

"... Not a day passed but a hundred fires were started. The mountains with dense black smoke rising from them looked like volcanoes... The smoke settled dense and blue upon all the hills; the sun had a lurid color; at night the stars were obscured and the moon rose dull and red above the smoky and smoking horizon."
Journal of Forestry 2:2-13, 1903

Account of 1988 Yellowstone Fire from Wyoming

"Competent personnel from Louisiana-Pacific Corporation told the Forest Service and the Park Service that the conditions after the blowdown were a definite fire hazard. The National Park Service ignored these experts and could only deal with the fire that subsequently occurred with outdated and ineffectual methods."
Wind River Multiple Use Advocates, Riverton, Wyoming, Wm. King, Sec. 1996 comment on 1988 Yellowstone Fires

"Government officials used these fires as a research project in some instances. One "Expert" was quoted as saying here comes the fire, BURN, BABY, BURN."
Wind River Multiple Use Advocates, Wm. King, Sec., 1996 comment on 1988 Yellowstone Fires

Account of 1995 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Fire

"The Forest Service finally brought in crews, dynamite and water bombs. But much of that shore, including several islands, was engulfed and flames threatened us from behind... After 3 weeks, rain slowed the biggest fire. And belated efforts by the Forest Service also assisted by rain, finally contained the southern fire."
"Fossil Bill" Kramer, Silver Bay, Minnesota, 1996 comment on 1995 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness fire

"60,000 acres of Canada's famed Quetico Provincial Park were incinerated. As were 17,000 acres of America's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness... The environmentalists claim 'natural fires' are beautiful... For years we'd predicted a holocaust. Yet, when it came, we were - inexplicably - unprepared.
"Fossil Bill" Kramer, 1996

"U.S. and Canadian officials predicted the two (fires) would join, consuming the entire region. But with fire crews retreating, both governments barred people from accessing and defending their properties."
"Fossil Bill" Kramer, 1996

The Natural Change in Condition of the Adirondack Forest After Blowdown

"... the dense tree canopy of intact spruce-fir forests normally forms an underlying moist microclimate so resistant to fire that spruce-fir forests are nicknamed 'asbestos forests.'
"But, once the dense spruce-fir forests are brought down, 'asbestos forests' become 'incendiary forests.'
"The downed trees also dry out to become highly flammable resinous debris. This is true whether the trees are downed by wind, as in 1995, or by ax, as in 1903."
Edward C. Krug, Ph.D., soil scientist, environmental consultant, "Forest Blowdown and Wolves in Sheep's Clothing," New York Property Rights Clearinghouse, Oct.-Dec. 1995

Forest Blowdown and Lake Acidification

"In 43 Adirondack Mountain watersheds, lake pH is associated with the percentage of the watershed area blown down and with hydrogen ion deposition."
Jerome E. Dobson, et al., Oak Ridge National Laboratory, "Forest Blowdown and Lake Acidification," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80(3), 1990, p.343

Salvage Logging and Lake Acidification

"Salvage logging appears to counteract the effects of blowdown... and facilitate short-term acidification followed by long-term neutralization."
Jerome E. Dobson, Ibid., p.357

Long Island Pine Barrens Forest Fire - August 1995

Acres burned - 6,000 Westhampton Beach, 3,000 acres Rocky Point (over 1/6 of Pine Barrens lost)
Number of firefighters - 1,500 Westhampton Beach from 194 companies
Fire zone - 5 miles long, 1 ½ miles wide at Eastport
Cause - arson suspected
Losses in addition to forest - a home, lumberyard, buildings and a train station, heavy firefighting vehicles, no lives, 40 firefighters injured
Firefighting methods - ground crews and equipment and helicopter 200-gallon water drops assisted by New York Air National Guard, Connecticut and Pennsylvania helicopters, Army National Guard helicopters and tankers
Conditions - 100-foot flames, gusts, tinder dry from drought flammable mulch 1½-foot thick, hoses could not reach deep wooded areas
Albany Times Union, Aug. 26, 1995. "Hundreds flee Long Island Inferno" and other sources

The Fire That Claimed the Worst Loss of Life in U.S. History
Forest Fire - Peshtigo, Wisconsin - October 1871 - four million acres burned, 1,500 residents killed (same week as Chicago Fire, where 250-300 died, but isolated and hardly reported)

"The year 1871, particularly during the October week of the Chicago Fire, was studded with massive outbreaks of fire throughout the simmering drought-blighted plains. It had not rained for three months, and humidity was almost nonexistent. The gale winds that blew the Chicago blaze to such fury also raced across seven states.
"Searing holocausts hit the towns of Peshtigo, Manistee and Glen Haven in Wisconsin, as well as towns in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and the Dakotas. The blazing fires literally dropped from the heavens in hurricanes of flames in Wisconsin, encompassing nine towns and 400-square miles. The suffocating cloud instantly killed 750 people, and another 750 residents were burned to death."
Jay Robert Nash, Darkest Hours (Nelson-Hall, Chicago) 1976, pp.437-438

25,000 Acres and 29 Residences Destroyed by Fire October 1994 Riverside County, California - Losses Made Worse by Endangered Species Act Restrictions for Stephens Kangaroo Rat

"A fundamental problem stems from the inability of several government agencies to strike a balance between the needs of public safety and the necessities imposed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This was never more evident than when The California Fire devastated 25,000 acres and 29 homes in the Winchester area of Riverside County on October 26, 1993. Nineteen of the burned homes were inside an SKR preserve study area. The "take" prohibition of the Endangered Species Act regulations for SKR and gnatcatcher, and confusion over rules for coastal sage scrub (the gnatcatcher's habitat) resulted in property owners being unable to properly defend themselves through disking their land for weed abatement purposes. Given that Southern California has been prone to wildland fires throughout history, the fire risk to property owners was of genuine concern. Fire officials admit the allowed alternative to disking — mowing or grazing — only provide minimal fire protection."
from Fire Protection, The Public and The Endangered Species Act - An Analysis of Letters and Documents Concerning Endangered Species Issues - A Case Study of the California Fire of October, 1993, Riverside County, California - Golden Research Group, Fresno, CA, August 1994 released by Malcolm Wallop and other Congressmen in response to GAO whitewash.

"Due to the presence of this federally endangered species, discing of the firebreak would harm this species. As this area is within a proposed Preserve for Stephens' Kangaroo rats, incidental take under the current permit is not authorized."
from letter of Richard Zembal, Deputy Field Supervisor, United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, to Cindy Domenigoni, Domenigoni Brothers Ranch, Winchester, California, July 1, 1992

The Myth About Pre-Colonial Forests, Eco-System Management, Biocentricism and the Spotted Owl - Fire Devastates the Northwest 1994

"But it was an Oregon State University graduate student, Bob Zybach, who most successfully exploded the old-growth myth. In what seems the most thorough investigation of the historical record so far, Zybach reviewed Bureau of Land Management maps from 1850, 1890, 1920, and 1940 and read notes of early explorers, diaries of settlers, ship logs, Geological Survey studies, interviews with Indians, and notations of early scientists, and examined data on pollen fossils and charcoal deposits.
"Through this investigation he drew a very different portrait of the pre-Columbian Northwest. Rather than a "sea of old growth," the landscape, he suggested, was characterized by what early settlers called "green islands." The fragmentation which the government and the Wildlands Project sought to destroy had been the dominant regime for millennia!
"Forests were more open than they are now," he later told Evergreen magazine. "There were islands of even-aged conifers, bounded by prairies, savannas, groves of oak, meadows, ponds, thickets and berry patches." And, far from exhibiting the "complex structure" touted as necessary by the New Foresters - such as multilayered canopies, woody debris, and snags - these early stands, owing to frequent Indian burning, "were virtually free of underbrush and course woody debris that had been commonplace in forests for most of this century." Thus, Zybach concluded, "There's not a chance in the world the forest (Jerry Franklin - the champion of old-growth) describes has existed here in the past 10,000 years...
Alston Chase, In A Dark Wood Houghton-Mifflin, 1995, p.404

"The warnings were sounded, but few listened. And the light at the end of the tunnel was fire. By June it came, driven by hot, dry winds rolling up mountains like freight trains, pushing walls of heat that turned small stones red. As the disciples of biocentrism raced to consolidate their agenda, these flames, fueled by old growth that had become too old, sick, and dry, raced through the West, destroying homes and habitat, threatening towns, killing firefighters, sterilizing soil, and laying waste the very trees, plants, and animals preservationists sought to save.
"By the time the embers cooled in October, more than 3.5 million acres had burned, nearly doubling the previous year's fire toll. Tens of thousands of acres of owl habitat went up in smoke, and the nation awaited another season.
Alston Chase, pp.407-408

Sources of information on Blowdown, Wildfire

1. Alston Chase, nationally syndicated columnist
Rt. 38, Box 2062, Livingston, MT 59047
(617) 576-3621
Author of Playing God in Yellowstone (1986) and In A Dark Wood (1995)
(Yellowstone, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire policy)

2. Edward C. Krug, Ph.D., soil scientist, acid rain expert
521 Deborah Ave., Winona, MN 55987
(507) 454-6082
(Blowdown and lake acidity, history Adirondack fire)

3. William C. King, Secretary
Wind River Multiple Use Advocates
P.O. Box 1126, Riverton, WY 82501
(307) 856-2783
(Experience and government policy during 1988 Yellowstone National Park fire)

4. Jerome E. Dobson
Park Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge TN 37831
(615) 574-5937
(Forest blowdown and lake acidification)

5. Ike C. Sugg
Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC
(202) 331-1010
Author of Rats, Lies and the GAO - A Critique of the General Accounting Office Report on the Role of the Endangered Species Act in the California Fires of 1993, Competitive Enterprise Institute, 1994

6. Dennis Hollingsworth, Ron Goble and Jeff Hensley
Golden State Resource Management Group, Fresno, CA
(909) 679-9782
Authors of Fire Protection, The Public and the Endangered Species Act - An Analysis of Letters and Documents Concerning Endangered Species Issues As Related to Fire Protection, August 1994

7. J.M. Harris, Fire Chief; Howard R. Windsor, Fire Captain;
Riverside County, California, Fire Department
(909) 657-3183

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