Down River Fire & Fuel Management Plan
The District has just completed a plan to help landowners and land managers to deal with the threat of wildfire in and around the communities of Salyer and Hawkins Bar. Kenneth Baldwin, a local Registered Professional Forester, led the planning. The Down River Fire & Fuel Management Plan looks at current conditions and fire protection infrastructure and identifies things that can be done to help protect residential properties, promote healthy forests and protect natural resources such as soil, water, fish and wildlife from severe wildfires. The plan addresses residential property protection, fire control access and safety, water development for firefighting, and fuel management. It includes the communities of Salyer, and Hawkins Bar and the residential areas of Oden Flat, Suzy Q Ranch, Gray Flat, Hudson Creek (southeast Willow Creek), and along South Fork Road. It was funded as a part of the “Down River Communities Fire Safe Plan and Demonstration Project” by the USFS through the National Fire Plan Economic Action Program.
There are recommendations that agencies and individual landowners can follow to reduce the danger of wildfires. Kenneth did extensive research and spent a lot of time in the field to develop some overall recommendations and to identify specific projects to be done on private land. They include shaded fuel breaks to reduce ladder and surface fuels, thinning overstocked forests, and using prescribed fire to reduce fire spread and intensity. These projects, taken in conjunction with the work that is being done by the Lower Trinity Ranger District of the USFS, should reduce the likelihood of high severity fires and improve firefighters’ ability to control low and moderate severity fires to prevent them from increasing in intensity or becoming crown fires.
Down River Fire Hazard Severity
The Fire Hazard Severity rating in the Down River area is ‘Very High’ (CDF) because:
- Flammable structures are interspersed along the 299 and Trinity River corridor, with concentrations in Gray Flat, Hawkins Bar, Suzy-Q Road, Oden Flat, Salyer, Ammon Ranch, and the Hudson Creek area.
- Most of the residential areas are adjacent to steep slopes with flammable vegetation.
- Roads into many homesites are not adequate to accommodate 2-way fire engine traffic.
- State Highway 299 and five county roads are well traveled during fire season, increasing the risk of human fire starts.
- There is limited access for fire suppression forces in most of the communities.
- Summer conditions include hot, dry and windy weather, especially in the afternoon.
- Thunderstorms, with lightning strikes, are common during the summer months.
- Wildland vegetation is dense in many places, with areas of continuous fuels, including dead fuel on the ground.
- Fire ladders exist in many areas.