Love Sugarloaf Mountain by leaving it alone
It is unfortunate that now, when land “conservancies” acquire wild(-ish) land, the first thing they want to do is get the masticator out there to destroy what they just acquired, all for “fire safety.” How did it get to this point (give donations wisely)?
“Fuels clearing,” especially in wildland areas is just out-right habitat destruction. It destroys the most important layer for wildlife (sorry, but much of our wildlife like it “messy”). Wildlife need cover to escape predation. They exploit spaces in their environment. “Fuels thinning” destroys their homes and does not guarantee yours will be left standing.
In every major fire since 2000, “fire cleared” homes burned to the ground, including mine. Fire is driven by wind and flying embers. Houses set other houses on fire. Why are public agencies taking responsibility for private landowners? I participated in a BLM-sponsored clearing project in my former neighborhood. When our houses burned down, should we have sued the BLM? Why would public agencies even put themselves in this position? No one forces us to move next to wildlands! How audacious then to complain about it! I once observed a horrific mastication project on the edge of which were homes with cedar shingle roofs! So the private landowner has no responsibility for his own home? The taxpayers pick up the tab? And the homes burn down anyway.
Where are the incentive programs to install fire-safe roofs? Why did Nevada County make it easier to build new (wood) homes on fire-prone steep slopes? This automatically puts the lives of our firefighters at risk (and the lives of residents).
So it is, I applaud Nevada City for its decision to approach the “management” of Sugarloaf Mountain mindfully. Crazy as it sounds, why not just leave this wild place alone, or as wild as possible?
Virginia Moran is a field biologist who lives in Alta Sierra.
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