Speak up for the Ventana Wilderness!
The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comments now on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement Project in the Ventana Wilderness in California.
Your help is needed by March 13 to end permanent, artificial firelines inside the Wilderness and allow the Ventana Wilderness to restore its wilderness character.
The 237,000-acre Ventana Wilderness straddles the Santa Lucia Mountains south of the Monterey Peninsula in the Big Sur country of southern California. All but 720 acres lie in the Los Padres National Forest and are managed by the Forest Service. Originally designated as Wilderness in 1969, Congress has added more land to the Ventana Wilderness four additional times — in 1978, 1984, 1992, and 2002.
Fire has had a frequent presence in the Ventana Wilderness, as it has in many Wildernesses. Congress included special language in several of the additions bills allowing the Forest Service to conduct some "pre-suppression" activities in those wilderness additions to keep fires from burning outside the Wilderness.
In the new DEIS, the Forest Service proposes to re-establish and permanently maintain 10.4 miles of "fuelbreaks" or firelines within the Wilderness. To its credit, the agency proposes to not use bulldozers to reconstruct the fuelbreaks, but it would allow chainsaws and other motorized tools to build the fuelbreaks. But there are no guarantees bulldozers won’t be called in again when the next fire occurs.
Fuelbreaks are often ineffective in stopping fires. The 2016 Soberanes Fire in this Wilderness, for example, "spotted" or jumped ahead a mile and a half in front of the flames, a much greater distance than the width of the firelines. Research shows the best way to protect structures is to control vegetation and other flammable products near the structure.
Wilderness Watch believes the Forest Service first and foremost should act to protect the wilderness character of the Ventana Wilderness, particularly when research shows that fuelbreaks are often ineffective, and that fireproofing homes is really only effective when reducing flammable materials in the immediate vicinity of those structures.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please take action and email the Forest Service by March 13. Tell the agency you support Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative, and urge the agency to focus fire prevention measures on the structure protection zone (usually within 100 feet of homes and other structures) where it is most effective.
Please make the following points:
1. Urge the Forest Service to adopt Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative. This alternative best protects the wilderness by allowing the old firelines to heal over time. Permanently maintaining artificial firelines within the Wilderness significantly degrades wilderness conditions.
2. Urge the Forest Service to work with local landowners to focus fire control in the structure protection zone, the area immediately adjacent to homes and other structures. Research shows that reducing flammable material in the immediate vicinity of structures is far more effective for protecting homes, and it does so without the ecological damage caused by building firelines on adjacent public lands.
Thank you for taking action to protect and defend America's Wilderness legacy!
Want to do even more for Wilderness?
Donate now to support Wilderness Watch's work to protect and defend America's Wilderness heritage.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page. You can also help spread the word on social media by clicking the buttons below.
Thanks again...Together we will keep America's Wilderness wild!