Friday, September 21, 2007

Addendum to "Residents Express Opposition to Burning Caribou Rock"- Burning not the Only Way

If the USFS goes ahead with their proposed Caribou Rock prescribed burn it is likely that much, if not most, of the old-growth pine along the historic Caribou Rock hiking trail will be destroyed. The Forest Service hopes to protect the pines along the trail by limiting their burn to a ground fire. However, based upon pasted experience with proposed ground fires- what is hope for is not always what happens. On Seagull Lake's Three Mile Island most of the islands beautiful ancient pines were burned when the proposed ground fire crowned. Gunflint District Ranger, Dennis Nietzke in explaining what went wrong on Three Mile stated, "what we hoped would happen didn't but what we thought would happen did."

The residents that are objecting to burning the Caribou Rock trail are concerned that like Three Mile Island what is hoped for will end up being what they all feel will happen - those beautiful pines along the trail will be destroyed.

Granted the Three Mile Island burn may have played a role in protecting residents during the Cavity Lake Fire. And granted along the Caribou Rock trail their is a build up of fuels from the blowdown that should be removed. But burning these fuels is not the only way to remove them.

The most important portion of the Caribou Rock Trail to the area residents is the first one and half miles and, guest what? This part of the trail is outside of the BWCA where mechanical means can be used to remove the blowdown. Mechanical equipment was used to remove the accumulated fire hazardous of brush, balsam and blowdown in the past to protect the old growth stands of white pines at the Pines near the Landfill turnoff, by the Lullaby Creek Road and other places along the Gunflint Trail.

Therefore the question to the Forest Services is- since the pines along the Caribou Rock trail are historically so important to area residents and since the most significant portion of that trail is outside the BWCA, why not remove the fuel hazard using a method that is least likely to destroy those pines- mechanical equipment. Then after that portion of the Caribou Rock Prescribed Burn area outside the BWCA is cleared mechanically the Forest Services could go ahead and burn the remainder of the area inside the BWCA. The result would be that, at least, the must significant portion of the trail's pines would likely be preserved.

Several residents have already requested that mechanical equipment be used on the portion of the planned burn outside the BWCA but like a speeding out-of-control freight train the Forest Service appears to be unable to even slow down enough to consider other alternatives.

by Ted Young

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