Citizens for Fire Safe Forests
Mendocino County - June 7, 2016

Firefighters Declare Dead Trees Public Nuisance

Firefighters in Mendocino County filed a citizen initiative today to address the danger posed by millions of trees killed and left standing in the forest.

Albion Little River Chief Ted Williams explains: "This initiative safeguards firefighters from unnecessary manufactured hazards and residents from loss of critical infrastructure, including escape routes and telecommunications lifelines. It effectively places people before private industry profit, shifting damage losses from the citizens to the corporations who stand to profit from radical forest management practices. It's about industry accountability."

The timber industry in Mendocino County kills over one million "undesirable" hardwood trees each year and leaves them standing dead in the forest because they see it as the cheapest and easiest way to restore the more profitable conifers.

Retired CAL FIRE Air Attack Captain Kirk Van Patten observes: "In ten years of aerial wildland firefighting in Mendocino County, one of the most profound and troubling observations I made was the timber management practice of hack & squirt. This clearly has created a serious wildland fire threat for the firefighters and citizens of Mendocino County."

Dead standing trees ignite easier and burn hotter and faster, endangering everyone who lives near the dead zones. They also pose increased danger to firefighters who are called upon to respond to such fires. A dead tree burning is one of the most dangerous situations a firefighter can face, and that hazard increases exponentially as the number of dead trees rises.

Mike Coltan, volunteer firefighter, states: "Mendocino County's rural residents are at greater risk of catastrophic wildfire due to standing dead timber intentionally left after hack & squirt, which greatly increases wildfire flame height, rate of spread, and fire line intensity. I am very concerned about community safety as well as the safety of my fellow volunteer firefighters."

More than 200 residents and firefighters came before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on April 21, 2015, requesting action on this industrial practice. In spite of overwhelming public support, the resolution failed by one vote.

James Sibbet, another volunteer firefighter, says: "The practice of killing millions of trees over thousands of acres, compounded with leaving the dead trees as a fuel load for fire, after years of drought, is a clear case of human arrogance."

These four firefighters, along with Comptche resident Katy Tahja, are the proponents of this initiative. Once enough signatures have been gathered, this measure, which declares intentionally-killed-and-left-standing trees a public nuisance, will be on the June 2016 primary ballot.

Ms Tahja concludes: "It would be much nicer to not have to worry about having a standing dead forest in our backyards."

Supporters of this initiative hope to finally achieve what the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously called for in a resolution twenty years ago: "Call an immediate halt to any practice which leaves large acreages of killed hardwoods standing but not downed."

Contact: Ted Williams - - (707) 937-3600

Citizens For Fire Safe Forests
18452 Orr Springs Rd
Ukiah, CA 95482