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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
October 31, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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October 31, 2012

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 1B GION L '" : SIDE SECTION B: EDITORIAL OPINIONS UPCOMING EVENTS "We need to make sure we treat this land aggressively, knowing we do not want to come back l O to 15 years from now and have to do this all over." Earl Ford, Plumas National Forest Supervisor Photos by Samantha P. Hawthorne Although these severely burned trees are still standing tall, most of them will likely die and be cut down as Plumas National Forest restores the forest from the devastating effects of the Chips Fire. Afterrn 75,000 acres burned $55 million in firefighting costs 27 million in lost business Forest Service gives Chips Fire restoration begins Samantha P. Hawthorne Staff Writer shawthrne@plumasnews'cm plumas and Lassen counties were devastated by the month-long Chips Fire that started July 29 and bu :ned more than 75,000 acres of forest. During the course of the Chips' Fire, several communities were evacuated, major roads were shut down and several campgrounds were forced to close for the season. Part-time residents who normally stay in town throughout the summer packed up their bags and left early. Residents who battled through the smoke endured health problems such as tiredness, difficulty breathing and red eyes. Local businesses lost thousands of dollars in revenue, caus- ing some to go into layoff mode. Summer events such as the Street Rod Extravaganza and the Lake Almanor Fall Century Ride were cancelled. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the counties affected, which allowed for the use of more state re- sources to help battle the fire. Wild animals were forced from their natural habitats and left to find homes in more stable areas. A small female bobcat was found hobbling alongside the road where mop-up opera- tions were being conducted. The cub, who was later named Chips, was examined and found to be suffering from second- degree burns on all four of her paws. The affects of this fire were not only physically and emo- tionally draining, they were financially draining. More than $55 million was spent fighting the fire, and local entities such as lumber companies, the sheriff's office and businesses esti- mated a combined loss of more than $27 million. Only a couple months after the Chips Fire devastated parts of the Plumas National Forest, vegetation is starting to return to this severely burned area. with the amount of damage caused, Community members have raised concerns that the Forest Service is not properly managing the national forests. Prior to the containment of the fire, promises were made by Earl Ford, Plumas National Forest supervisor, that officials would give the public opportunities to tour the devastated burn area and offer suggestions on how to manage restora- tion. The first such tour was held Oct. 13, followed by three com- munity meetings held in Greenville and Quincy throughout the next week. The main purpose of the tour was to hear from community members: What did they believe were restoration priorities for the fire area? "We want to make this an open transit of ideas and we will do our best to incorporate them as we go along," said Michael Donald, district ranger for Mt. Hough Ranger District. Four stops were made along three main roads going through the fire area. With the addition of Caribou Road, the Forest Service decid- ed that these would be the first roads to treat for safety haz- ards. During the first stop on Ohio Valley Road, Ford discussed the varying complexity of damage made by the Chips Fire. This stop showed very low-intensity burns. Only 20 percent 6f the burned area was severely impacted, unlike in the Moonlight Fire, which had more than 50 percent of high-severity burn. He explained that the difference between the two fires was primarily due to the high winds and hot weather that kept pushing Moonlight Fire forward at a rapid rate. According to Ford, three-fourths of the Chips Fire burned on Plumas National Forest, and the other quarter'burned a combination of Almanor, Lassen and privately owned,forest. Plumas forest has extremely step terrain, whereas Lassen, See Chips, page 6B This type of steep terrain in the Plumas National Forest faced firefighters attempting to contain the Chips Fire. represents one of the challenges that Twenty percent of the area are slated for removal. impacted by the Chips Fire is severely burned, and many of the trees