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Forest Service Worker’s View Of Rim Fire Damage

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A Stanislaus Forest Protection Officer, who has been working in Sierra Nevada forests for the past eighteen years, shared his perspective of the charred and changed landscape after the Rim Fire.

Patrick Karnahan was Friday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

Karnahan patrols Cherry Lake, the Clavey River and the forest area from the Mi-Wuk District in the north to Highway 120 in the south.

From Karnahan’s perspective, the Stanislaus National Forest is a special area of the Sierra Nevada that is still not very crowded and it contains a large amount of railroad logging history as well as a large variety of Jeffery, Juniper, Black Oak and Sugar Pine trees.

Most of the forest in the area that Karnahan patrolled this Summer is now gone. Karnahan says that he has broken down a few times.

“The area has been devastated. The fire incinerated the trees, the branches, the drainage areas, the canyons,” said Karnahan. “Some of the larger areas, old growth forests and old tree plantations were burned, but the fire was not as hot. In fact, the fire behavior left some patches of the forest completely alone.

Karnahan continued, “The area will probably never look the same again to me. However, brush is already coming back. There are some sprouts and the foliage is returning. Over time and with good forest management, the forest will be green again.

There are areas where the ash has piled up a foot deep.

As far as animals, the saddest loss of life was with cows and cattle. They were unable to get out. Otherwise, over the past few weeks I’ve already seen plenty of deer, black bear (one with cubs), squirrels and birds in the burned areas. A lot of the wildlife was able to survive the fire.”

The full interview can be heard this morning as the “Newsmaker of the Day” segment, which airs every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45am.