“A ruinous fire scarred one edge of Yosemite National Park, and a
contentious remake of the main tourist center is still playing
out. But a significant and positive change is close to happening:
the first expansion of the fabled, ever-popular park in 70
“Until they burned, oaks and pines in the Rim fire area
absorbed carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen, a useful service
for the planet.
“The massive blaze reduced the value of this function by as
much as $797 million, according to an initial estimate by
economists who specialize in accounting for ‘ecosystem
services,’ or what nature provides to humans.”
“The Stanislaus National Forest was a thickly forested wonderland
of streams, wildlife and campgrounds until last summer’s Rim fire
— started by a hunter’s illegal campfire — scorched more than
250,000 acres of it and the adjacent Yosemite National Park. To
many people, it’s a tragic sight now. What was once dense
greenery is now scarred, gray and empty looking.”
From U-T San Diego, in a commentary by Robert Hanna & Nathan
“Yosemite National Park has long blessed us with its
breathtaking beauty and the transcendental splendor of its
valleys and backcountry. Yet between the massive Rim Fire and
17-day government shutdown, there’s no denying that 2013 was a
hard year for the park we all love.
“As the New Year dawns, we still have a chance to enhance
Yosemite’s splendor by adding 1,600 acres of important habitat
for park wildlife.
“Congress will revisit unfinished business with Yosemite
National Park next year.
“One pending bill would expand Yosemite’s boundaries. Another
would rename a local mountain peak. A third would speed salvage
logging in the park’s vicinity. Some bills may have promise,
but none yet shows unstoppable momentum.”
From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Blog:
“An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated
Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess
potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in
“BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group
that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is
responsible for identifying potential threats such as
downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and
restore burned areas.
From the Los Angeles Times, in a commentary by former U.S.
Rep. Dan Lungren and former California Attorney General John
Van de Kamp:
“One hundred years ago this month, President Woodrow Wilson
signed the Raker Act, which allowed San Francisco to build a
dam in Yosemite National Park and convert the spectacular Hetch
Hetchy Valley into a municipal reservoir.
“As native Californians who have often visited Yosemite, we can
think of no greater crime committed against the national parks.
But it’s not too late to undo the damage.
“It’s been three months since California experienced its third
largest wildfire in history. The U.S. Forest Service must now
decide how to restore the 257-thousand acres burned in the Rim
Fire, and how much salvage logging should occur.”
“In late September, the House sent to the Senate a bill
introduced by Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of
Washington, that would not only authorize salvage logging but
require it in some areas, and would deter legal challenges.
“In response, a group of 250 forestry experts and scientists
have written a letter attacking the bill and the very concept
of salvage logging.”
“The federal government this week rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s
request to help pay for damage caused by the Rim Fire, leaving
the state and the small Sierra communities that suffered in the
blaze on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars.
“In a letter sent to the governor Monday, the administrator of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency said California’s
third-largest wildfire was not severe enough to qualify as a
Although dousing the flames was foremost in people’s minds during
the recent Rim Fire in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite
National Park, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientific work
continues well after the fire is out.
“As autumn turns to winter and rain falls over the charred
landscape left behind by the Rim fire, forest rangers and
emergency planners have a new worry: water.
“Over 90% of the blaze burned in the Tuolumne River watershed,
where more than 2,600 miles of streams cut through steep,
now-burned slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Those mountains are
primed for flooding and debris flows in a big storm.”
“An ambitious plan to restore and improve the health of the
largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park is
moving forward with the release Thursday of an environmental
impact statement for the project.
“The tourist site at the south end of the park includes asphalt
parking lots that cover the sprawling roots of the giant trees,
as well as tram service and roads through the grove. Park
officials hope to restore wetlands, remove the parking lot,
reduce noise and add shuttle service for visitors to reach the
“Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday
suspending environmental regulations and freeing up money to
clean up downed trees and debris, and prevent calamitous
mudslides in the huge blackened area left by the Rim Fire.
“He also announced that he has asked President Obama to declare
California a major disaster area so that it can receive federal