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Posts Tagged ‘wildfires’

Memo To: California and Australia Re: Fuel Modification

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

“Driving through Victoria, it’s just like driving through coastal California. … With the same heat, the same winds and dry fuels, California always has the potential to burn like that,” 

-Kevin Olson, chief of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Chief Olson, head of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said southeastern Australia faces some of the same fire problems because of similar climates and topography as California.

(Source: Associated Press)

While that may be so, it all boils down, or um burns down, to sensible vegetation management. As long as uber-powerful state commissions like the California Coastal Commission and governmental entities in Australia ban people from clearing brush the problem won’t go away.

So what is the problem?

It’s the fuel, stupid!

Excerpt from Chief Scott Franklin’s exclusive SINS OF COMMISSION interview.

A method to reduce flame lengths, reduce down wind spotting, and reduce emissions while meeting fuel reduction requirements, was found by crushing chaparral and allowing it to cure for several days prior to burning. Crushing and burning has proven to be a highly successful tool in managing vegetation at the urban wild land interface.

-Scott Franklin, Fire Captain and Vegetation Management Officer, County of Los Angeles Fire Department (ret)

In California, most western U.S states, and Australia, the problem is two fold: 1) influx of residents into intermediate areas we call Urban Interface Areas and government prohibition on sensible vegitation Management.

Political pressure forced the Victorian Government to curtail back burning during winter months and eliminated the clearing of buffer areas between forests on the grounds that it is harming the environment and destroying wildlife habitat. 

Basic forestry management procedures that would have limited the amount of fuel available and limited the speed at which these fires would have traveled were stopped.

(Source: Christian Science Monitor  Global News Blog)

Meanwhile, on our side of the pond-

The [California] fires, fought at a huge cost to taxpayers, failed to translate into any meaningful reforms at the state or federal level despite efforts in Sacramento and Washington.

(Source: LA Times Bettina Boxall)

 As wildfire fire fighting costs in California spiral upwards, driven by one of the worst wildfire seasons in the state’s history, our government still waffles.

‘I don’t think you can take money from suppression to do fuels treatment,’ Rey said. ‘Suppression money is what saves lives and homes, so that’s not going to be a very popular posture.’

-Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey

Popular isn’t the issue. Fuel modification is, and I for one. don’t know why everyone is dancing around the issue.  In fiscal 2008, half of the $1.4 billion that the U.S. Forest Service spent nationally on wildfire suppression was spent in California alone. State fire expenditures topped $1 billion.

Modification of fuel saves lives while suppression, although highly visible, is ruining the environment. ( see  CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION - Time for a New Urban Wildland Fire Strategy? - Part 1 and 2 ) back in December’s SINS OF COMMISSION Archives.

The reason why recent fires in Australia are so bad, is the same reason last year’s firestorm almost blew down to the Pacific here in L.A - Prohibitions on brush clearance in large areas. Argueably, there are many factors to consider, but the truth is that the astonishing increase in the intensity of catastrophic wildfires cannot all be blamed on global warming.  Here’s why -

The fires, fought at a huge cost to taxpayers, failed to translate into any meaningful reforms at the state or federal level despite efforts in Sacramento and Washington.

(Source: LA Times Bettina Boxall)

Let us not let recent rains and snow covered mountains lull us into a false sense of security. Another fire season is on the way sure as shootin’. But this time there are new techniques we can implement. So why not implement them? 

Wildfire fire fighting costs in California spiral upwards, driven by one of the worst wildfire seasons in the state’s history.

Deer Lost

Deer Lost ABove Malibu - Photo Alan Simmons

Feeling burnt? 

Help us spread the word?

SINS OF COMMISSION needs your help. We desperately need funds to finish the film. Please donate now though our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit organization, and receive a tax deduction from Uncle Sam or at least an I.O.U.

 

SINS OF COMMISSION IGNITES AT NATPE

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

NAPTE 2009 - Exhibition Floor Opens is  Las Vegas

NATPE 2009 - Exhibition Floor Opens - Las Vegas

3 1/2 years after Peggy called me to document a California Coastal Commission inspection; SINS OF COMMISSION debuted at the 2009 NATPE CONVENTION (National Association of Television Program Executives), in LAS VEGAS.

Even though SINS OF COMMISSION is not finished, we had no choice but to present it to the global film and television distribution community. 

Time is running out for California.

NAPTE 2009

NATPE 2009 Opening coincides with Chinese New Year

One question each distributor inevitably asks is why a film dealing with a local “California” issue has global importance. It’s a darn good question. Here’s my response -

ERIN BROKAVITCH was a film about a powerful utility company called P G & E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) and took place in the sleepy southern California town of Hinkley. Who ever heard of Hinkley?

SILKWOOD was about a local small and previously unknown company, Kerr-McGee. The story took place in a Kerr-McGee plant near Crescent, Oklahoma. Does anyone know where Crescent is? 

Everyone knows where the California is.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….but what happens in California effects the world.

-Richard Oshen, Writer, Director, Producer

NAPTE 2009 IDA Booth

NATPE 2009 IDA Booth

The events revealed in ERIN BROKAVITCH and SILKWOOD entered our national debate and shaped policy.

Although the corruption each film exposed occurred in a local context… it occurs in every state in our nation and universally.

Each film’s specific event is a template anyone living anywhere in the world can identify with.

Same with SINS OF COMMISSION.

Corruption is universally understood.

California Wild Fires from Space

California Wild Fires from Space

The dialog SINS OF COMMISSION ignites, will shape California state environmental policy and will also have a profound effect domestically and internationally for several reasons:

1) quasijudicial regulatory agencies operate in every state in our country and occur internationally 

2) land use is an incredibly hot topic,  and

3) the entire world is effected by the CO2 California emits each year from catastrophic wildfires 

WE NEED YOUR HELP.

NATPE 2009 - IDA Booth

NATPE 2009 - IDA Booth

SINS OF COMMISSION urgently needs your support to complete the film.

SINS OF COMMISSION is a fiscally sponsored film through the IDA - the International Documentary  Association a 501 c3 Non Profit organization.

All contributions made thru the IDA are tax deductible.

Times are tough for all of us,  but so are we…and they won’t get better unless we pull together.

California Wildfires - Who Really Gets Burnt? Follow The Money - Part 1

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Fire Victims Feel Burned by Lawmakers Tied to Insurers

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

By Jordan Rau Times Staff Writer
February 27, 2006 in print edition A-1 

SACRAMENTO ” Karen Reimus’ San Diego house was obliterated by the 2003 wildfires, leaving nothing recognizable except a charred jogging stroller and her daughter’s burned bicycle.  Yet her insurer insisted that she catalog each of her family’s destroyed personal items  ” down to pens and tampons ” if she wanted to be reimbursed.

“When insurance companies are selling peace of mind the way they do in their advertisements, nobody has any inkling of the hoops you are going to have to jump through,” said Reimus, a 39-year-old lawyer and mother of two.

She reached a settlement with her insurer after months of wrangling. Dozens of similarly frustrating experiences prompted Reimus and other survivors of one of the worst wildfire seasons in California history to urge that new rules be imposed on insurers. But the most far-reaching efforts were derailed by a panel of state lawmakers that is closely aligned with the insurance industry, offering an unusually clear window on how Sacramento works and how legislation can be determined by a handful of well-placed politicians.

Insurers have spent $25 million on lobbyists

Insurers have spent $25 million on lobbyists, campaign contributions and perks for lawmakers  ” even some who regularly cross them  ” since 2003. Their money shows up particularly prominently in the campaign coffers of members of the Assembly Insurance Committee, a pro-business, relatively conservative bastion within the generally liberal Legislature.

Insurance money  ” more than $1 million in 2003-04  ” makes up nearly a fifth of some of those members’ war chests. And members, their spouses and their aides routinely accept expensive meals, free golf games, hotel rooms, tickets to Laker and Clipper basketball games and other gifts from insurers and their lobbyists.  

See which California lawmakers, that represent you, make the biggest bucks from the insurance industry in Part 4.

Source: Times reporting
Los Angeles Times

See the article on Los Angeles Times website

Feeling burnt? Help us get the message out.

Donate now through the International Documentary Association, our fiscal sponsor.

Big Kudos to California Clean Money Campaign. Visit them at CCMC

TURF WAR!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
 

Fires Blaze along the coast of California

Wildfires rage in Southern California - NASA

Massive wildfires roaring through California are what many people jave come to expect our future will be.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Experts claim our monster fires are due to everything under the sun…from climate change to greenhouse gas and maybe even the sun itself.

SINS OF COMMISSION suggests there may be another factor no one speaks of,,, and possibly within our control.

Ever wonder why the number of forest fires in the Western U.S. and the amount of acreage burned have increased in intensity?

 

 

The fires are among the worst disasters in California history…

- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger 

Line of fire: Approaching wildfire threatens a subdivision near Los Angeles, California, in 2003. Improved estimates of wildfire hazard could help firefighters focus limited resources on the most potentially dangerous fires.

Line of fire: Approaching wildfire threatens a subdivision in Southern California. Improved estimates of wildfire hazard could help firefighters focus limited resources on the most potentially dangerous fires.

Today Southern California is heavily populated with millions of homes, and these homes are surrounded by large unbroken swaths of protected brush - fuel beds, in fire department lingo. To continue to zealously protect brush without permitting the fire department to modify the denisty is only treating the result - not the cause.

What if we there is a way to trim the chaparral in an environmentally sensitive manner that diminishes the overall flame length thus controls the intensity of the fire - why can’t we do it?  Unless is fire being used as a device to prohibit, restrict or limit home building.

Or is it a turf war between state agencies competing for funds? 


    Portions of this story are excerpted from a series of features on sustainable development by IPS - Inter Press Service and IFEJ - International Federation of Environmental Journalists.

Why California Burns - One possible explanation

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The existing regulations do not meet the current requirements of the City’s Fire Chief, particularly with respect to brush management.

-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Strong environmental protection policy is essential for our survival here on Earth.  Whether people can or can’t trim or cut brush in order to save their lives, should not be a debate.

Fires are getting more expensive to fight due to rising costs of fighting bigger fires and drier conditions. (CNN)

Has anybody asked themselves, “What if fires were getting more intense because there was a greater supply of fuel than ever before?”  Firestorms have intensified over the last 15 years according to Urban Wild Land Fire guru and former Los Angeles County (LACoFD) chief Scott Franklin.  ”Its curious to note”, says former  chief Scott Franklin, “that the intensification of fire storms coincides with stronger environmental protection…” He is referring to the large continuous swaths of fuel beds to be specific.

What if a simple revisit to the way we protect and manage brush decreased the fuel source that drives the fires? Think it might save precious resources environmental, human, and financial?

A clear public safety hazard is present for existing structures adjacent to undeveloped areas of native and naturalized vegetation.

-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

What if it were possible to trim the protected brush in a way that decreases the head of the brush - the part that’s is similar to a match. I’m no rocket scientist but if you decrease the head of the match, the flame length is shorter, thus the Santa Ana winds wouldn’t be whipping up 50′ to 100′ flames….they’d be blowing over flames 10′ or less but the good news for everyone is that the chaparral rejuvenates and potential damage to lives and homes is decrease. 

Problem is there needs to be cooperation on all sides.

Why not start there?

SINS OF COMMISSION - NEW DOCUMENTARY FILM - PRESS RELEASE - California Coastal Commission - Exposé

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Pacific Coast Highway Productions, Inc. announces the pending release of its first feature length documentary film, SINS OF COMMISSION .   

SINS OF COMMISSION is the first documentary film to expose the decades of abuse of power by the California Coastal Commission, and the first documentary film to investigate the possible link between this abuse and the increasing intensity of recent wildfires in California. 

A Sin of Omission is a failure to do what one must do.
A Sin of Commission is to know something is wrong… and do it anyway.

SINS OF COMMISSION - MOVIE POSTER

Log Line: 

SINS OF COMMISSION slips behind the veil of secrecy into the invisible world of the California Coastal Commission to reveal how they have corrupted environmentalism and risk people’s lives while fueling California’s wildfires… and why no one does anything about it. 

SINS OF COMMISSION was written, directed, and produced by Richard Oshen for Pacific Coast Highway Productions, Inc. For festival inquiries contact SINS OF COMMISSION directly at sinsofcommission@gmail.com

 

 



 
 
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