After spending four days in the wilderness of the Anza-Borrego Desert, we returned to a world that had turned to chaos – schools closed, roads empty, and everyone in quarantine from the Corona Virus. We should have just stayed out there.
But since we’re back, we thought we’d share some of our discoveries – one of which was that the desert’s arid shrublands, although beautiful, can be seen as mere decoration. It’s the plutonics that center stage – igneous rocks cooked deep underground.
Formed when the Farallon Plate was diving under the North American Plate (beginning about 170 million years ago), all shapes and forms of granite and granite-like rock were created from molten earth five miles deep. At times, reheating and extreme subterranean pressure transformed it all into beautiful, defoliated gneiss. At other times, cracks or weak areas filled with crystalline minerals of quartz, feldspar, and mica. Exposed to the surface after millions of years of erosion, decomposition sets in – it rusts, it crumbles, it’s turned to sand.
Cal Fire has approved a program that will make the landscape more flammable, fail to protect communities most at risk, accelerate the loss of native plant communities, and reduce the carbon absorbing abilities of native habitats.
How is this possible? The answer is simple.
Like those who failed to prevent the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil platform blow out, Cal Fire managers are guided by an outdated paradigm that “normalizes deviance,” meaning they focus on positive data about operations that support their beliefs while ignoring contrary data or small signs of trouble. Hence, despite multiple warnings since the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County that demonstrated habitat clearance projects continually fail during wind-driven fires (the ones that cause all the devastation), wildfire managers responded by calling for even more clearing and logging, often far from communities at risk.
The loss of more than 80 people during the 2018 Camp Fire was a direct result of institutions adhering to a belief system that prevents the acknowledgement of changing conditions.
With an rapidly increasing population and a changing climate, time is short. We can not allow government agencies to pursue policies that risk our lives and the landscapes we love because those policies support what agencies have always done.
We have spent more than 15 years working with Cal Fire and the California Governor’s office to craft a comprehensive, science-based wildfire risk reduction program. They have refused to listen. Instead, they have produced a huge habitat clearance plan (the Vegetation Treatment Program – CalVTP) with the goal of clearing a quarter million acres of habitat a year, while admitting they are ignoring the real threat to our communities – wind-driven wildfire.
To determine how the CalVTP will be impacting your favorite natural place, send us a note with its location and we will make a map for you (see #3 below).
1. The CalVTP will Increase Fire Risk.