Hippies of Nimbin admit Greens to blame for Bushfires. How many Koalas died?

- Peter Myers, November 14, 2019

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Hippies of Nimbin admit Greens to blame for Bushfires. How many Koalas died?

(1) Hippies of Nimbin admit Green policies to blame for Bushfires (2) Nimbin house saved by Firies; fuel load up there was enormous (3) How many Koalas died? (4) Forests are the "Lungs of the Planet" - but only if they do not burn (5) Retired Forester says Selective Logging not always best for Forest (6) Greens' forestry policies are contributing to Climate Change (7) Califonia learning the importance of Prescribed Burns from Native Americans (8) Northern California native people show how to do low-intensity burns

(1) Hippies of Nimbin admit Green policies to blame for Bushfires


Stokers Siding resident Des Layer says he has not seen such a large fuel load in the national parks in his 30 years of riding horses in northeast NSW, The Australian's environment editor Graham Lloyd reports.

Hippies of Nimbin admit bush got too wild


The Australian

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The greenies have a lot to answer for over the incendiary state of the Australian bush.

This is the view of Michael Balderstone, hemp candidate, deep environmentalist and leading figure in the Nimbin community, which is now beset by fire.

"They (greenies) own it," Mr Balderstone said. "The Greens have to cop it on the head, they have been obsessed with no fires and no burning."

Mr Balderstone says the lessons from indigenous land managers have been forgotten.

"The Aboriginals say it is country gone wild," he said. "We were just blind to their knowledge."

The hills of northern NSW are ablaze with an out-of-control bushfire that, with an expected change in wind, could on Tuesday race for the coast near Byron Bay.

Des Layer has for 30 years ridden his horses through hills now being ravaged by fire. For decades he has watched the structure of the bush change from what he says is poor logging and lax management.

{photo} Nimbin resident Des Layer says he has not seen such a large fuel load in the national parks in his 30 years of riding horses in northeast NSW. Picture: Vanessa Hunter

Before the area became national park, Mr Layer said, he would get permits to collect firewood from the state forests. Since the national park was declared there had been no permits issued.

"It has just been building up," he said.

A generation of locals, raised on forest protest, are being forced to confront some tough truths about forest fuel loads and management. Communities that have been on the frontline to stop logging and expand national parks are seeking refuge as fire threatens to consume their homes.

Protesters Falls near Terania Creek, the site of Australiašs first environmental blockade in August 1979, is surrounded by an out-of-control blaze in the Nightcap National Park. Tuntable Creek community, a free-spirited community that grew from Nimbinšs counter-culture movement of the 1970s, was one of the first settlements to be evacuated.

{photo} Conservationists protesting the logging of Terania Creek outside Lismore in 1979.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has blamed climate change for what has been billed as a raging armageddon. But even among hippies bigger questions are being asked about park management and the extraordinary fuel loads that have been allowed to build up for more than a decade.

Poor logging practices have changed the forestšs ability to cope with fire. First the fire-retardant edges were lost and then the high-value canopy trees. With the big trees gone, the humidity of the forest was reduced, the canopy was opened to allow palms to grow and then drop dead fronds into the undergrowth. Extended dry conditions have resulted in a tinderbox of lantana and weeds in an area that has not seen a significant fire for half a century.

Mr Layer believes the solution should have been selective logging but "you canšt trust these people to go in with chainsaws to do it sustainably".

Opinions are mixed about climate change. Some say climate is always changing; others think conditions are worse because of it.

{photo} Police clash with Terania Creek protesters in 1979.

At an emergency information meeting called for Nimbin Hall on Sunday the emphasis was on the task at hand rather than whether the federal government had been doing enough for fire brigades.

For many, Senator Di Natalešs attempts to blame lack of climate change action for the fires is seen as opportunistic and irrational. Climate change is a global problem. Local action on carbon dioxide emissions will not afford regional protection against the weather or fire.

Mr Layer has been taking action for his own property. He has spent winter slashing and cleaning up the property, which has 20 dams. He hopes hešs done enough.

(2) Nimbin house saved by Firies; fuel load up there was enormous

From: Bill

Once again, thanks so much for these fantastic and timely articles which need some very careful considerations from many of the forest managers, councils, Rural Fire services etc

Our son David who lives at the Commune near Nimbin, Tuntable Falls, had his house saved by the firies yesterday.

The fuel load up there was enormous

He has been out there for days helping wherever he could

Hešs an expert with chain saws and was able to get one started which a firey had had a lot of trouble with

So hešs very lucky - so far.

The cool southerly today could send the fire back up where it came through yesterday

(3) How many Koalas died?
- by Peter Myers, November 13, 2019

The Greens do not hesitate to use Koalas in their campaign against ordinary Australians, who are portrayed as Rednecks.

Yet Green policies have been largely responsible for the devastating bushfires, because:

- they opposed or impeded hazard reduction burns

- they got rid of Grazing Leases in many forests, whereby cattle and horses ate the undergrowth

- they stopped logging, and cutting of firewood, in many forests

- they blocked access to many remote roads, with gates and padlocks (to keep Rednecks out, but this also hinders bushfire fighting)

- they took over the state forestry authorities, placing ecologists rather than foresters in the top jobs.

Forests need to be harvested; otherwise, sooner or later, they burn.

A few koalas and possums might lose their homes when trees are felled.

But how many Koalas died in the recent bushfires? And what a terrible way to die.

The Greens should be held responsible.

(4) Forests are the "Lungs of the Planet" - but only if they do not burn
- by Peter Myers, November 13, 2019

If the Greens want to reduce Climate Change, they should change their Forestry policies.

Better some logging than total destruction.

Timber homes store carbon, and, unlike steel, are made from a renewable resource. Steel and brick houses are energy-intensive to produce, and steel-framed houses rust - especially where metal parts move against one another, e.g. in a metal roof.

The Greens promoted 'Softwood Substitution", which means using Radiata Pine (and similar softwoods) instead of Australian native Hardwood (Eucalypts) for house-building. The building industry like Pine because they can use nail-guns (euclaypts are too hard for nail-guns to penetrate). Also because Pine makes very flat walls to which sheet cladding can be easily fixed (glued - because pine does not hold nails well). Modern houses with walls made of pine are much weaker than old hardwood houses; steel is used to strengthen them.

Australian native animals do not live in Pine Plantations; these are silent places. And if they happen to burn, they do not regenerate, unlike eucalypts.

For building, Radiata Pine is an inferior timber; hardwood is much stronger and more durable. And if we return to building hardwood houses, we can harvest the forests that the Greens have locked up in National Parks.

This will reduce the bushfire problem. But harvesting of timber will not reduce the Carbon-storage in those forests - important to curtail Climate Change - because there will be fewer devastating fires.

This will also be better for wildlife.

Grazing leases should also be restored in such forests. And firewood collection should be permitted.

Which harvesting methods? Not clearfelling, but selective harvesting, which produces old-growth forests of mixed species and varied ages. There should be firebreaks in such forests, i.e. bare earth tracks which make breaks in the fuel, as well as providing access for fire suppression.

That's how the State Forests were operated, before they were taken over by National Parks.

(5) Retired Forester says Selective Logging not always best for Forest

Gerard Neville was a forester in the NSW Forestry Commission, based in Urbenville in northern NSW; he also worked in the Tasmanian forestry service, and as a consultant in many Forestry services overseas. He now lives in France

Subject: Re: Hippies of Nimbin admit Greens to blame for Bushfires. How many Koalas died?

Thanks Peter

I thought these lessons had all been learned after the Canberra fires about 15 years ago ! - but maybe only in the ACT perhaps? I understood that prescribed burning had come back into vogue in the Blue Mountains for example?

You are on the right track - mostly.

However as far as selective logging is concerned you need to consider its impact on what remains in the forest.

Logging is mostly concentrated on taking out trees which are commercially viable and if this is just for sawlogs - just about always the case except where there is a market for pulpwood - then in the log run forest quality will deteriorate unless the "left over" (ie lesser quality because of species or form - misshapen, too many branches etc) trees are also removed. In NSW the Forestry Commission used to carry out TSI (timber stand improvement) after a logging operation to fell unusable trees and also to thin out smaller trees with potential to grow into good quality mature trees.

You can draw parallels with a farmer managing his herd or flock - if all he removes are his best animals overall quality will decline. If he wants to improve quality then he has to get rid of inferior ones if he can. And as in the case of forests you don't want to hang on to the best forever for eventually as they age they decline and become "useless" at least in a commercial sense and finally die.

Clear felling can be appropriate in some circumstances - where the forest has become degraded through past repeated selective logging with no follow up TSI (and TSI was largely phased out because labour intensive it became too expensive) - and a market arrives for low grade wood (pulpwood).

Anyway I am glad to see that some common and practical sense is beginning to permeate the debate about land management - too bad though that this has required loss of lives and property destruction.

The commonsense approach to land management was well understood in forestry circles 60 years ago, before the greenies began to dominate public discourse.


(6) Greens' forestry policies are contributing to Climate Change

From: Michael Crighton <micdavid@zo.com.au>

Peter, Your statement that climate change is not supported by science is certainly wrong in its adamancy. There is considerable supporting data on outcomes predicted by the Climate Change theory.

Reply (Peter M.);

But that's not what I say.

If the Earth is warming up - and I accept that the Greenland icesheet is melting - then all the more reason to stop bushfires. Major bushfires are Climate Change catastrophes.

The best way to stop them is to return to the policies mentioned above.

The problem is that the Greens' forestry policies are contributing to the very Climate Change they claim to oppose. Nimbin is where the Green protest movement began in Australia. Now that they are suffering the consequences of the policies they have promoted (No Logging, No Burning), they may have the decency to admit they were wrong.

Read items 1 and 2 above carefully; they are both about Nimbin.

(7) Califonia learning the importance of Prescribed Burns from Native Americans


Californiašs Wildfire Policy Totally Backfired. Native Communities Know How to Fix It.

Tribes are teaching landowners and government agencies how to fight fire with fire.


NOVEMBER 11, 2019

When it came time to set fire to the hillside, Kitty Lynch paused. A 70 year-old retired waitress, Lynchšs job during the controlled burn of a 2,200 acre ranch in Humboldt County, California this June was to keep the fire in check by tamping down small, errant flames with a tool called a McLeod. Lynch had been attending lectures by Indigenous tribes in her region about prescribed fires, blazes lit intentionally to control dry brush and prevent unplanned burns, for over a decade. But she was the oldest person in this group of about fifty, and she worried she wouldnšt be able to keep up.

The effort was organized by the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, a grassroots team of wildfire experts, local landowners and community members that hosts hands-on trainings on controlled burns as a method of natural disaster prevention. The Humboldt event united unlikely allies: Trump-supporting ranchers worked side-by-side with retired hippies and back-to-the landers; logging workers hammed it up with the same Save the Redwoods League activists they battled in the regionšs timber wars. Academics who studied prescribed burning watched their theory become practice.

Lynchšs worries were quickly put to rest. The organizers were "very welcoming, and [found] a place for everyone," she told me on a recent call. Timed for a clear, sunny day with low wind and moderate humidity, the burn successfully cleared medusahead, an invasive grass, from 50 acres of the ranch. "Išm a firm believer in the results [prescribed fire] produces," said Lynch, "and itšs wonderful to see the whole age spectrum of dedicated people in the community helping."

Controlled burns like these are becoming more common across the West and especially in California, where uncontrolled blazes have forced the evacuation of over 300,000 people and scorched about 200,000 acres so far this year. As legislators and regulators grapple with how to prevent destructive wildfires and keep the statešs largest energy utility in check, scientists, land management groups, and advocates are pushing another method: fighting fire with fire.

The idea isnšt new. For countless generations, Indigenous people have worked with fire to maintain healthy landscapes that are less prone to massive wildfires. While allowing natural fires to burn, Native Americans in California and elsewhere started some intentionally to clear dry brush, maintain species balance, and create prairies and meadows where animals graze. In the early days of Western settlement, some ranchers also adopted this practice to maintain pastureland for cattle.

"There is an urgency," Kolden says. "We are seeing every single year now, highly destructive and sometimes fatal wildfires." But in the 1880šs, the US Army began to administer Yellowstone, the first national park, and developed the idea of "fighting" fire. In 1910, wildfires in Idaho and Montana burned millions of acres, destroying communities and killing 86 people. The US Forest Service subsequently adopted a policy of putting out all blazes, which state and federal land management agencies mimicked in an effort to protect timber supplies and human lives. Under these policies, Indigenous people and ranchers alike could be fined for burning their own lands.

In 1968, the National Park Service lifted its fire ban after noticing a decline in giant sequoia trees, which depend on fire to grow. Over the next fifteen years, the Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) gradually re-introduced fire to their landscapes. The Forest Service now admits that suppression backfired; excluding fire created an unnatural build-up of dry brush and overcrowding of trees thatšs partly fueling todayšs mega-fires. Scientists and policy makers increasingly agree that under the right conditions, intentionally burning away flammable vegetation is one of the most effective tools for reducing wildfire risk. And research shows that when wildfires do reach lands thinned by prescribed fire, far fewer trees die "even under extreme fire weather," an effect that can last for up to 15-20 years.

{photo} Community members watch the fire line on a controlled burn started by the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association. Lenya Quinn-Davidson

Yet we still have a long way to go. A recent analysis of government data titled "Wešre Not Doing Enough Prescribed Fire in the Western United States to Mitigate Wildfire Risk," written by University of Idaho fire scientist Crystal Kolden, found that between 1998 and 2018, the amount of prescribed burning in the Western US remained stable and even decreased in some areas. According to the Sacramento Bee, fewer than 90,000 acres of California were intentionally burned in 2018. Kolden roughly estimates that the state should be burning at least five times that amount.

"There is an urgency," Kolden says. "We are seeing every single year now, highly destructive and sometimes fatal wildfires. A lot of the solutions," like retrofitting buildings or restructuring communities, "take a lot of time and a lot of money. [But] prescribed fire is much cheaper. It ends up being this thing that we can do now, if we have the political willpower."

Part of the problem is the slow process of obtaining the necessary permits to burn on public lands, which make up about half the statešs acreage. Jake Hannan, a Cal Fire battalion chief, told me that burns can take up to 18 months to plan. The process is much easier for private landowners, who can can burn without permits if Cal Fire approves of their experience and methods. Even during the driest months, local Air Quality districts can grant permits for the smoke that results from prescribed fire on private lands. Thatšs why burns like the one Lynch worked on are emerging as a solution to the Westšs wildfire problem.

"We arenšt anywhere near bringing fire back at the scale we need to," says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension who helped lead that burn. "Itšs important to push forward with a grassroots model that empowers people to do the work, instead of having bottlenecks with the agency thatšs in charge."

The Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, which Quinn-Davidson leads, was the first organization of its kind in the West when it started in 2018, and has already inspired similar groups to start up in northern Californiašs Plumas, Nevada, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. These groups bring landowners and neighbors together to provide the manpower that controlled burns require. Quinn-Davidson says shešs hosted 25 lecture and field-based workshops in the past year to increase peoplešs comfort with prescribed fire, and in the past two years, shešs led 20 burns on private lands.

"Wešre bringing fire back to the people, making it more cooperative and accessible," she says. When it comes to burning on private lands in the West, "the roadblocks are less at the policy level and more at the experience level."

In 2013, Quinn-Davidson hosted a controlled burning workshop with the Karuk tribe, which is largely based in Orleans, CA, about 70 miles south of Oregon. Controlled burns are integral to the identity of Karuk and their neighbors, the Yurok, who both live in the northern California mountains amidst millions of trees. Decades of fire exclusion upset a delicate balance that tribes helped maintain; their forests have become monocultures dominated by conifers, instead of the colorful mix of oaks and other hardwoods that would flourish with regular burning. But as interest in prescribed fire grows, the Karukšs expertise is being tapped to help agencies and individuals learn to work with fire, and to follow seasonal rhythms of when and where to burn.

In October, I attended a controlled burn training hosted by the Karuk in Orleans. More than 100 participants, including local landowners, renters, members of the Forest Service and Cal Fire, plus a fire unit from Spain, gathered for a two-week burn of 216 acres of Karuk ancestral lands that are now privately owned. Two days before I arrived for the training, the tribe had burned dozens of acres in a section of the forest they called the Bullpine Unit. Walking through the site, I noticed that nearly all trees survived, but the forest floor, where one might expect a tangle of brush and bramble, was virtually wiped clear, creating a feeling of spaciousness between the tall pines and firs. The area was dotted with thin plumes of smoke, rising from stumps that still smoldered.

At another burn site, a group dripped flames across a tree-covered hill. Others were patrolling the borders of the fire, while the "burn boss" spoke commands into a radio.

"These places are a lot happier when wešre here," said Vikki Preston, a cultural resource technician with the Karuk Tribe who grew up observing burns and has participated in multiple trainings. "The trees are healthy when wešre tending to them, taking really good care of them." After burns, Karuk schoolchildren take field trips into the forest to gather acorns and materials for basket-weaving, traditional activities made possible by clearing the forest floor.

Preston explained how theyšd chosen the correct conditions for this burn. "We were coming off of it being rainy a couple weeks ago, so it had dried out enough that you could tell [the brush and leaf litter] would burn off. But it was moist enough that wešre not threatened by a wildfire imminently."

Yet not everyone is convinced that controlled burns are scaleable. Terry Warlick, a fire battalion chief with the US Forest Service who works in the Mendocino National Forest and attended the Karuk training, was enthusiastic about the "historical fire regime" modeled by tribes. But, he says not all communities will be.

"They donšt like the smoke, they donšt want to see it‹until they have to experience a wildfire," he told me, as volunteers followed the shin-high flames creeping across the hillside. "It kind of seems like we got to go through, you know, an event to change our thought process."

"People are scared of any fire application," says Hannan, the Cal Fire chief. "All theyšve known is these huge fires that burn down houses and sometimes kill people."

He was referring to recent infernos like the Camp and Carr Fires, but prescribed fires occasionally wreak havoc, too. A controlled burnšs "escape" started the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico, which scorched 47,000 acres and left 400 families homeless. Such incidents can be almost completely prevented, says Preston, by fire crews that have intimate knowledge of the lands they are burning, and follow specific techniques.

After starting a burn, experts from her tribe work with local agencies to monitor it. "All day theyšre taking data," she says, to glean a solid projection of where the fire is headed. When a fire has lingered for too long, or threatens to move past the fire line, crews can spray water or use tools to tamp it down. But under the right conditions‹low wind, high humidity‹it usually flickers out on its own.

Cal Fire is slowly increasing its prescribed fire targets. By the end of this fiscal year, they intend to burn 25,000 acres, while the Forest Service in California burned 43,000 acres over the past fiscal year. Independent training exercises like the Karukšs burned about 14,000 acres nationwide in 2018, and over 125,000 in the past decade.

"These places are a lot happier when wešre here," said Vikki Preston. Preston and other Karuk tribal members, in line with scientific consensus, believe there should be more prescribed fire throughout the year. The tribešs plans for this yearšs training burns were limited by a "burn ban" imposed all summer and reinstated this fall due to high winds and low humidity across most of California, the same conditions that prompted the utility company Pacific Gas & Electric to shut off power lines across the state, leaving millions without electricity. Yet Preston and others say the conditions in the mountainous region of Orleans were ideal for burning.

"We should be basing these [burn ban] decisions on local factors and not socio-political factors," says Bill Tripp, a deputy director in the Karuk Tribešs Department of Natural Resources, implying that burn bans may be intended to limit liability for utilities like PG&E, or to avoid the negative optics of a planned burn while wildfires wreak havoc elsewhere. "The Forest Service and the local [Cal Fire] unit were with us in saying Œwe know this timing is right,š but the decision is being made in Sacramento," where Cal Fire is headquartered. The October moratorium prevented the Karuk from burning about 100 of their 300 intended acres.

"Wešre not getting to scale," says Tripp, who would like to see tens of thousands of acres in the tribešs region burned. "Wešve got people on hand who are ready and qualified, itšs right on our homelands, and wešve been doing this for millennia. But as long as wešre relying on someone else to make the decision of when to act, I donšt think wešre gonna get there."

Some Karuk leaders worry about their burn methods being "co-opted" by groups like the Forest Service, who historically infringed on their ceremonies and stewardship of the land. A 2014 report on ecological sovereignty from the tribe argued that "while non-Tribal agencies have attempted to gain access to Karuk knowledge, a far more effective and appropriate action these agencies can take is to remove the barriers their policies put into place"‹in other words, stand aside and let knowledgeable tribes burn.

A spokesperson for Cal Fire says that the statewide agency is not considering any changes to the way it implements bans, though some areas may be granted exemptions, and the permitting process for landowners who want to burn is currently being streamlined.

Yet without the support and education of non-Native communities, loosening state regulations on burning may not do much. "We need strong leadership from the community itself, not coming from the government or Cal Fire, to make the burns successful," Chief Hannan told me. "The more events that occur in nearby communities, where fires arenšt going out of control, the more accepting people will be."

In her work training people to safely adopt prescribed burning, Quinn-Davidson finds inspiration in the Karuk approach to fire. "We should be striving for the level of connection and personal reflection that Indigenous cultures have with their landscapes," she said, describing a holistic mindset that non-Natives may need to learn from to care for lands more sustainably. "Wešre in an era when we need to find a meaningful place for everyone to work on this, every kind of community member." Even a self-proclaimed "inexperienced novice" like Kitty Lynch.

(8) Northern California native people show how to do low-intensity burns



The Quiet, Intentional Fires of Northern California

How the Yurok nation and other indigenous communities use low-intensity burns to shape the landscape and the species that live there.

In the wake of catastrophic wildfires like the one in 2018 that burned the California city of Paradise, wildfire management has become a pressing topic, to say the least. Especially under scrutiny is the US Forest Servicešs hundred-year policy of suppressing fire‹on the surface it makes sense. Fire burns houses and kills people. Itšs a terrible, uncontrollable enemy. Right?

Not necessarily. The native communities across California have been practicing traditional, controlled forest burning techniques for 13,000 years. From the great grasslands of central California to the salmon runs of the Klamath River, the Miwok, Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, and other nations have tended and provided for those plant and animal species that were useful to them. To do this, they created a patchwork of different ecological zones using low-intensity fire, creating niches that support Californiašs unbelievable biodiversity. Some of the California landscapes that look like pristine wilderness to the nonindigenous are actually human-modified ecosystems.

And many species have come to depend on low-intensity fire at a genetic level. "We have fire-dependent species that coevolved with fire-dependent culture," says Frank Lake, a US Forest Service research ecologist and Yurok descendant. "When we remove fire, we also take away the ecosystem services they produce."

To understand how indigenous cultural fire management works, I attended a Training Exchange, or TREX, a collaboration between the Yurok-led Cultural Fire Management Council and the Nature Conservancyšs Fire Learning Network. A couple of times a year, firefighters from around the world gather to learn from the best of the best, the Yurok traditional fire managers. We learned about the traditional uses of prescribed fires‹they aid the acorn and huckleberry harvests‹but we also worked with modern tools like drip torches and atmospheric weather instruments. When everyone returns to manage their own homelands, they bring with them a deeper knowledge of how to use fire holistically to heal the land while preventing catastrophic and out-of-control wildfire.

For me, as a photographer used to working almost exclusively in the Arctic, I found this story to be challenging‹it was hot in Northern California in October! The first day I was on assignment, the mercury hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and I tried my best to keep making photographs with sweat dripping down my camera. Thankfully, within a day, the weather shifted and I learned to navigate this dry, beautiful landscape with the same sense of wonder as I do up North. Itšs hard to walk around inside a Yurok-burned forest without a sense of awe at the renewal of life and the ingenuity of its indigenous caretakers.

Copyright: Peter Myers asserts the right to be identified as the author of the material written by him on this website, being material that is not otherwise attributed to another author.


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