top of page
  • Karel Ancona - Best Cali Hemp

The State of Fires In California

This past week’s installment of Life on the Farm at Best Cali Hemp has seen the team busy preparing for various shows and manufacturing our Reliable Blends Health and Wellness body care products needed for ever-increasing demand and have become religious about checking fire status. With the Dixie Fire as of this writing ranking having achieved the dubious status of largest single standing wildland fire in California State history and making national and global news, those of use close by and dealing with its impacts have been reduced to simply wanting containment and praying for rain. Lots and lots of rain.

The good news is that at present, the fire is about 10 miles away as the crow flies. That said, in the overall picture, knowing the locale where the fire began and how many miles it’s already traveled, that’s not a long enough distance to rest easy. The sad reality is the prospect of throwing enough manpower and equipment at this monster to slow it, let alone stop it, is seemingly unlikely as there is plenty of fuel to burn.

And as with all things these days, people in their grief and loss are understandably angry and wanting answers as to why and when those answers aren’t readily available or not what they want to hear, they turn to blame. I understand these are all very human responses. But to understand the big picture, it’s taken many years to get to this point, as is the case with so many issues facing us.

Clear back in the very early 1980s, the federal government began cutting the United States Forest Service budgets. Having been raised an USFS brat, I was lucky to experience a time when USFS had, since its inception in 1942 as part of the national response to recovering from the Great Depression, built myriad ranger stations, basically their own sustained communities. These stations were staffed year around by people whose jobs involved various aspects of forestry, whether they were law enforcement, fire information, forest management and restoration or firefighting. And in many cases, personnel wore multiples of these hats.

There were fleets of service vehicles, multiple fire engines and water tenders and frequently helicopters on site. Imagine being a kid and having helicopter rides and engine rides be the norm rather than the exception. But I digress. The point is that during fire season, when firefighters weren’t actually on fire, the crews were out every day actively cleaning up the forest - clearing undergrowth, dropping dead trees, cleaning up the healthy trees. This debris was thrown into huge slash piles and left to dry until the “off season” when the piles could be safely burned. In this way, our forests were able to maintain some balance. Additionally, it wasn’t uncommon to conduct controlled burns, which not only helped reduce fuels, but sustained and promoted those ecosystems that require fire to remain healthy.

Since that time, we’ve seen the logging industry decimated, and much of the logging that’s done is done in a less-than-respectful manner. Companies leave behind massive debris loads that do nothing but contribute to the problem when fire does occur. Since our forests are no longer cared for in any meaningful way, we see beetle infestation that kills the trees, and ongoing drought means that even in their standing, live state, trees are dryer that the wood in your wood pile. Add to this the climate factors, increasing temperatures that continue throughout the better part of any year. Add to all this (yes, lots of adding here and lots of layers to the issue) the fact that people are now interfacing more as they build homes and ever larger communities in forested areas. Used to be that for every five acre parcel, three acres of clearing with a home in the middle could survive a typical wildland fire. This no longer applies.

I could go on an on and on. The bottom line is there are many factors that have brought us to these moments. With The Camp Fire through to now, our firefighters are experiencing fire activity and weather within the fire zones never before witnessed. We throw so much money at suppression costs these days, that having to maintain year around staffing seems a better use of money. Not to mention the devastating loss of homes and the resulting insurance claims. We know what the issues are and have a pretty good idea of how to fix them. The question is whether we collectively have the will, fortitude and desire to fund the solutions.

’Til next week, happy growing! And please, pray for rain. Lots and lots of rain.

bottom of page