Bryant Baker speaks at CFC meeting

Bryant Baker, Conservation Director for Los Padres ForestWatch, will speak at the February 9 meeting of the Cambria Forest Committee, 5:30 pm on Zoom. The public is invited, free. All CFC meetings, monthly on the second Wednesday, are open to the public. Please request the Zoom link for the meeting by email to

Video of his talk is posted at (Passcode: #z&5pvJA)

Significant subjects he addressed are at the following points in the video:

00:00:00  Introduction
00:06:30  Begin Presentation
00:18:00  Community Wildfire Protection Plan
00:25:30  Forest Thinning
00:44:50  Structure Ignition Protection
01:06:44  Regrowth After Fire
01:10:15  Question and Answer – Discussion
02:28:22  End

Bryant Baker_72_Jun 2020

As Conservation Director, Mr. Baker analyzes technical documents, writes comments on projects undergoing environmental review, pens articles in local news publications, monitors the latest scientific literature on ecology and land management, develops and coordinates volunteer field projects, and gives community presentations on topics such as wildfire mitigation.

He will talk about what methods keep forests healthy and how to reduce the danger of wildfire to homes and communities in and near the forest. Projects that remove trees and understory as “fuel reduction” may actually result in forests that are more subject to fire and burn hotter and faster than forests that have their understory habitat left intact.

Cal Fire, the County Fire Safe Council, the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District and Auten Resource Consulting are currently removing large numbers of trees and understory from 665 acres of Covell Ranch as a 10-year Fuel Reduction Project in Cambria. See the project as described in slides from Auten Consulting at

The Cambria Forest Committee has concerns about the long-term effects of the ongoing Covell Ranch Fuel Reduction Project.  The fire agency approach to fuel reduction for forest management ignores the fact that forests absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, playing an important role in mitigating the climate crisis. Cutting trees down to reduce fire danger can produce hotter, dryer, and windier conditions, increasing wildfire danger.

Mr. Baker studied Oregon’s 2021 Bootleg Fire and found that “thinning, fuel breaks, and other forest management failed to stop or slow the fire’s rapid spread.

“Contrary to fuel reduction claims, the Bootleg Fire has raced through much of the landscape that has been logged in one way or another since the 1970s, including over the last few years,” he said.

Terms such as “forest health,” ‘resilience,” and “fuel reduction” sound good but in practice mean suppressing natural processes and removal of understory and biodiversity habitat.

Mr. Baker observes that fire breaks and mastication may be counterproductive to reducing fire danger to communities.

Mr. Bryant will respond to questions from the public after his presentation. See him in an interview with Dr. Chad Hanson, forest and fire ecologist with the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute and author of the new book, Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Our Climate, at

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