Fuels reduction is an important part of fire management in California and across the country. Fuel is pretty much anything that can burn… this includes trees, grasses, pine needles, etc. You might hear people talk about creating defensible space to reduce your home’s fire risk. You can create defensible space by removing any fuels around your house. The U.S. Department of the Interior has good information about fuels reduction.
The U.S. Forest Service has been working on a fuels reduction project in the Mammoth Lakes Basin for the past couple of years. If you’ve been up there this winter, you’ve probably noticed many piles of trees they’ve thinned out and will eventually burn. This project in particular seeks to reduce wildfire risk relative to the wildland-urban interface of the Mammoth Lakes Basin and Mammoth Lakes area overall.
Especially in California in the last few years, fire activity has been linked to power lines too. One of the ways power companies are trying to combat this is by clearing any fuels from beneath power lines. A few years ago we witnessed a power pole go to ground right outside our Mammoth Lakes office. A squirrel caused the short between two power lines, and when the power went to ground, pine needles started smoldering. Luckily an SCE crew showed up quickly and got our power back on.
In Crowley Lake, Southern California Edison crews have been clearing 10-foot perimeters at the base of power poles by the Crowley Lake baseball field (pictured above). SCE and other power companies are also using Public Safety Power Shutoffs to mitigate wildfire risks, but fuels reduction is still really important, so it's great to see our local agencies are being proactive.