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Discussion: Boggs Mountain Area Burning

in: Orienteering; General;

Sep 13, 2015 6:45 AM # 
All thoughts tonight are with the people of Lake County, California. A firestorm is raging through the county. The town of Cobb, where many orienteers have stayed, has been destroyed. Middletown is threatened. I have spent much time among the good folks of the area, while course setting at Boggs Mtn State Forest. Hope they are all safe.
Sep 13, 2015 7:31 AM # 
Boggs Mountain in happier days was the site of 2009 US Team Trials, as well as many other A Meets.
Sep 13, 2015 12:46 PM # 
Oh no! That's terrible. Cobb, its people, and Boggs Mountain are all my favorites. My thoughts are with the residents.
Sep 13, 2015 1:21 PM # 
Ooof. I watched all through August when the Rocky and then Jerusalem fires burned just east of Boggs and was relieved when they were finally out with Boggs spared. Looks like this one ("Valley") started Saturday just outside of Cobb.

The USFS Active Fire Mapping page has lots of useful info and remote sensing data. Cloudy today, but if you look back at the MODIS imagery from Friday you can see the big brown scar from Rocky/Jerusalem just east of Boggs.

Today's fire detection map shows the currently burning spots around Boggs. On a clear day you can see these as orange areas in the MODIS false-color images. You can see the orange of the Butte fire east of Sacramento in today's image (lower right quad).
Sep 13, 2015 6:33 PM # 
A fund has been set up for victims of all the Lake County fires.
Sep 14, 2015 2:21 AM # 
the strippa:
I work for Bike Monkey that puts on the Boggs 8hr MTB race, one of largest events with 800+ people. We were devastated to hear the news. We love the forest and that community.
Sep 14, 2015 6:58 PM # 
It seems that all of Boggs Mountain State Forest is within the burned area. Great terrain, great map, great park rangers. Beautiful forest. Many memories.
Sep 15, 2015 1:29 AM # 
I feel like the memories I have been immolated as well, but they can't be. My loss, as it were, is merely spiritual, not corporeal as is the case with the many people whose lives are intertwined with the area.

I take solace in the fact that I availed myself of every opportunity to orienteer in that Arcadian splendor while I could, experiencing that ephemeral oneness of the body, mind, and spirit that we have privileged access to in this most sublime sport, in that perfect splendor.
Sep 15, 2015 3:35 PM # 
One of our favorite hot springs destroyed! so sad to hear about Harbin Hot Springs!
Sep 18, 2015 5:13 AM # 
Here's an animated gif showing a map of Boggs (green polygon) with today's false-color MODIS, and the false-color MODIS from Sept 8, before the fire:

The entire area of the Boggs O-map has changed color, but its not the same brown color as the rest of the burn scar. The Aqua image from earlier in the day shows the same color difference, so I don't think its lighting.
Sep 18, 2015 10:01 AM # 
I have only seen a few photos and film clips of the aftermath of the fires but common in these seem to be that buildings, vehicles and of course the grasses are totaly burned but the trees with high canopies have been spared. Is that general throughout? It would make sense that if the fire was so fast moving it would burn itself out in the dry grasses of an area before the moister trees had a chance to dry out and ignite.
That is no consolation to those who have lost homes, livelihoods and perhaps loved ones but it may mean the orienteers do not have to write off a favorite venue, just erase some green from the map.
Sep 18, 2015 2:13 PM # 
One way or another, the fire won't hurt the contours or the rock. There are definitely places (e.g. in Colorado) where a forest fire swept through a mapped area, and the land is still there and available for orienteering, maybe with vegetation updates. Fire won't hurt a hot spring, either. Mourn the lives, mourn the homes, but the land survives.
Sep 18, 2015 6:04 PM # 
Fire increases hydrophobicity of soil which means less infiltration and more surface flow and potential for erosion when it rains. Tremendous alteration of the landscape (and yes contours too due to erosion gullies, stream channel change, etc.) following fires in last few years in Colorado, Australia, BC,....

What fuels burn depends a lot on the fire behaviour (rate of spread, crown vs surface, fire weather) and the Fire weather itself. Once I have permission to do so I can post some instand camera video from a prescribed burn I was researching earlier this year in AB.
Sep 18, 2015 8:14 PM # 
@jjcote--true, but the contours and rock at Boggs really aren't interesting. What made it a special venue was its relatively unique variegated and complex ground vegetation situation (coupled with the trail system and heavy overall relief.)
Sep 19, 2015 3:50 AM # 
I would normally hold out hope that Boggs itself survived in reasonably good condition. As the State Demonstration Forest, Boggs was more heavily managed than the surroundings and saw regular controlled burns. However, the fire conditions in the West this year are simply insane. The last three year period in California this year was the hottest-driest three year period on record (since people started taking notes some 100 years ago), and I believe snow packs were ~90% below normal. Tree-ring studies estimate that the soils are drier now than they have been in over 1200 years. Even healthy forests are going up like kindling. Some of the videos I've seen are crazy.
Sep 19, 2015 5:05 AM # 
Here's a look at today's MODIS image, comparing it to the Sept 8 pre-burn image. Using the tiff versions of the images, I took out band 7 (red in those false-color images) because its 500m/pix and used only bands 1 and 2 which are 250m/pix. Most of the burn/non-burn info is in band 2 (~850nm, which is very short IR - almost red). Made a pseudo 3-color image from these two bands for Sept 8 and Sept 18, plus a difference image of these two. White outline is approx Boggs Mtn SF boundary, and the O-map fills much of this area. The green dot in the diff image just west of Boggs is the location of the shed where the fire is suspected to have started (click for full res):

It looks like there's an unburned island in the SW part of Boggs, but hard to say for sure.
Sep 22, 2015 6:06 PM # 
This is a letter distributed to the Friends of Boggs Mountain:

Dear Friends,

Please note that the California Dept of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) has closed Boggs for the indefinite future due to post-Valley Fire hazards.

Boggs is closed to road and trail use as well as camping due to the dangerous conditions that are present, as well as the salvage logging which will be occurring.

According to the forest manager, when Boggs is re-opened, tours will be conducted for the public to see what happened, what is left and what the forestry staff plan to do for rehabilitation.

It will look very different and will not have the same allure for quite some time, but their goal is to have a healthy diverse forest that will be more resilient to future wildfires. There may also be educational opportunities for local schools regarding rehabilitation after a destructive wildfire, and with assistance from children, youth, and the greater community to help replant some of the forest.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Kent
State Forest Manager, RPF #2418
Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit
Boggs Mtn. Demonstration State Forest
Sep 22, 2015 7:45 PM # 
And more info:

#ValleyFire Updates:

09/18/2015 0745: 73,700 acres, 40% contained. All but 1% of the 3,493 acre Boggs Demonstration State Forest was significantly damaged by the fire. Approximately 45 million board feet of timber was killed or damaged.

SAFETY: Firefighter safety is a concern due to fatigue and rugged terrain. Driving hazards include downed power lines, narrow, unmarked, slick roads and increased civilian traffic. Hazards within the fire area include snags, hazard trees, poison oak, uneven and slippery ground from recent precipitation. Hazards adjacent to burned and damaged structures include exposure to toxic chemicals, contaminated materials, flammable gasses, and electrical. Hazards adjacent to the Geysers Geothermal Fields area include mine shafts, hydrogen sulfide and natural steam vents.
Sep 23, 2015 1:30 PM # 
The Friends of Boggs are being led astray apparently. Unfortunately the long-term outlook for Boggs is bleak, if the same absence of tree re-growth observed elsewhere occurs. The trees will not regrow, and the mountains will be covered only by dense, impenetrable undergrowth, according to yesterday's NYTimes:

...mother pines are nowhere in sight. Nature’s script has been disrupted by a series of unusually intense, unusually large fires — a product of many factors that include government firefighting policies, climate change and bad luck.

The result is bad news for forests here, in the West and around the world. A planet with fewer trees is less able to fight climate change, because trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of photosynthesis. “The future in a lot of places,” Dr. Allen said, “is looking shrubbier.”
Apr 8, 2016 2:21 AM # 
Here's an article about the current state of Boggs Mountain, with some pictures. 99% of the forest burned, 80% of the trees were killed, 300,000 trees planted in greenhouses destined for Boggs next year.
Apr 12, 2016 2:51 PM # 
That's an interesting article. But another article this morning in the NYTimes presents a different picture: Trees suck up precious ground water and exacerbate the California drought.

Interesting to note that tree-cover in Yosemite has increased three-fold since John Muir's day, from ~80 trees/acre to 250/acre! And with the drought and warmer climate, and decreased winter rains and snows (yes, even in this El Niño winter), these trees are growing faster, running out of ground water earlier, becoming vulnerable to insects, and dying at an increased rate. That's why so many dead trees are visible in the mountain forests these days.

So California's Dept of Water Resources may have something to say about reforestation efforts at Boggs...and elsewhere on our O maps.
Apr 12, 2016 3:04 PM # 
I saw an interesting museum exhibit, showing a survey done in my part of Colorado in the 1800s, which found far more extensive burn areas than one sees now. Similarly, Banff had an exhibit showing the extensive clearings and burn scars that were the norm there before fire suppression. We've really changed the west a lot by fire suppression. Maybe Reagan was right to vilify trees.

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