Living Firebreak, Again

Wow. Since the last visit, the crews have visited again and just about completed the living firebreak on our place. The local fire protection district acquired funding to cut a stripe 100 feet wide on both sides of the county road. The road borders our place for about 2500 feet, so a large crew of people went through with chainsaws and woodchippers cutting down and chipping all the manzanita understory and all the dead trees and all the trees under 10 inches in diameter.

Driving up from Coulterville, the road is lined with miles of piles of firewood sized logs, courtesy of the fire protection district. Definitely going to be warm and cozy for many winters to come, just need to bring up a truck to collect it all and haul it up to the cabin on the hill.

As the name implies, the firebreak is designed to limit a forest fire to one side of the road as well as provide a safe evacuation route for visitors.

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Here’s a view south through the firebreak from our driveway up the hill to the neighbor’s road bordering our property.

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Here’s the view south from our driveway 100 feet over from the firebreak. Pretty thick, and if it dries out in there and a fire comes though, look out. (We definitely need to thin the trees there, it is a pretty unhealthy part of our forest.)

So, thanks again, local fire protection district!

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Vultures!

We were wondering why so many vultures were swooping so low over the side of the hill, close to the cabin.

One of the great things about the hill upon which our cabin perches is that it is pretty steep and tall, looming over the nearby meadow and the canopy of the forest around the foot of the hill. Birds passing through the area, flying 20 feet above the trees, fly right over the cabin at rooftop level. So we are used to raptors and vultures wheeling overhead, but not like this.  Again and again the vultures would swoop down the hillside a few feet above the ground.

Peggy solved the problem when she noticed eggshells midway down the hill. On a visit earlier in the month I had “composted” the remainder of a carton of eggs by lobbing them down the hill. The poor vultures thought there might be something dead down there, and were looking in vain for a corpse.

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Sorry, guys. My bad.

Visitors

Crystal and Peter came up Friday, bringing steak and sausage and Jameson. We ate, we drank, we played and sang. We went to bed.

Saturday morning, everybody was up, and coffee’d and lightly breakfasted we headed off to Yosemite Valley.

It was pretty darned crowded.

Ah well, Peter parked a little ways from the Bridalveil Falls parking lot, and we headed up the side of the road towards Wawona for .3 miles past the parking lot, looking for the old Wawona stage coach road. We found it!

It’s still in good enough shape to hike on, so up we hiked. The old road is built pretty close to the valley wall in places, on top of the rubble which has peeled off and fallen from above. Since it’s been such a good rain year, there are streams and waterfalls flowing everywhere. Several streams of snowmelt crossed the old stage road in several places, until our way was finally blocked about a mile up, by a waterfall crossing and flowing off the side of the old road.

Alas, we had to turn back.

No problem, we hiked the Valley Loop trail over to the Swinging Bridge, then had lunch at Yosemite Lodge. The shuttle dropped us off at the El Capitan Bridge, from which we trudged back to the car and drove, weary and content, back to the cabin.

Everyone slept very well indeed after hiking 10 miles on a fine spring day.

The Living Firebreak

We were contacted several months ago by the local fire protection district, which was seeking grant money to fund a fuel reduction project. Our property runs for about 2500 feet along highway 132, and the fire protection district was proposing to create a “living firebreak” 100 feet deep, on both sids of the highway, all the way from the county line to where highway 132 meets with highway 120, a mile or so up from our place.

Hell yeah, we said, and filled out and returned the form they sent us allowing them to clean up 250,000 square feet of highway frontage on our property, at no cost to us.

A “living firebreak” in this case means that every tree under 10 inches in diameter is cut down, the remaining trees are “laddered” (lower branches from the ground to about head high are cut off, to prevent making a “ladder” allowing a grass fire to get into the tree crown), and all dead trees are cut down, all fallen trees are chopped up, and all of it is thrown into a chipper and the resulting wood chips broadcast onto the ground.

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Okay, so wow. They spent a day last week cutting down little trees and piling them up in a strip from one edge of our driveway, along the highway which is the western boundary of our property, to the neighbors’ road which meets the highway and is the southern boundary of our property.  So a swath 100 feet wide by about 700 feet long.

Then this morning, starting at 6AM, they were back with a couple of guys on chainsaws, a guy running a big chipper, a couple guys hauling cut stuff from the piles to the chipper, a CalFire truck, and 2 flagmen directing traffic.

Holy cow! And it will take them another 3 or 4 days just to grind their way along the whole 2500 feet of our property!

Thank you fire protection district!

Spring = Sprung

Our featured image today is of a jack rabbit from 200 yards with my awesome new camera. I was struck by the hypo-toad intensity of this rabbit’s baleful stare.

Rabbits are the theme of this visit, because they are scampering off everywhere as I hike around the property. I guess the coyotes I saw earlier this year are elsewhere…

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Lupines would be the other theme of this visit. Stupifying vistas of green grass carpeted with purple lupines, like being in a French impressionist painting.

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And birds. Lots of birds. Bluebirds always look so stern and cranky. “You lookin’ at me!?”

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Whereas woodpeckers look sort of affable, but blank, as if they’d taken too many head shots. Delivered, um, by their beak, um, to their skull.

It rained for a few hours a couple days ago. The creek is running, and this year has all the hallmarks of a hellacious mosquito year.

But right now, today, this evening, as the sun is going down and the mornings and evenings are still cool, everything… is… perfect.