Bucks Lake Wilderness
Allow media, forest service specialists, public officials, and conservation partners to examine bulldozer lines created to fight fires in the Bucks Lake Wilderness. Evaluate the dozer lines destruction to the landscape. Develop a larger understanding of the effectiveness of dozer lines in fire prevention and inform policy makers on new tactics to best manage our forests and fight fires.
Earlier this year, the Dixie Fire burned more than two-thirds of Bucks Lake Wilderness in the Plumas National Forest in northern California. This massive wildfire, the largest of 2021, was extraordinarily destructive. While it is necessary to use all tools to fight fires, some fire suppression tactics utilized in Bucks Lake Wilderness were unsuccessful and caused significant damage to the wild forest environment. Our flights over Bucks Lake Wilderness showed the destructive bulldozer lines created to fight fires. According to research conducted by Friends of Plumas Wilderness, only 14% of dozer lines that were bulldozed through the Bucks Lake Wilderness were effective in fighting the Dixie Fire. In the Wilderness area, 5.6 miles of dozer lines were created parallel to, or on top of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and another 1/2 mile was in the Mt. Pleasant Research Natural Area. These bulldozer lines are incredibly destructive to the natural contours of the landscape, and strip the area of vegetation. The dozer lines were largely ineffective at lessening the spread of the Dixie Fire and caused miles of environmental destruction.
Due to the urgent nature of fire-fighting, good environmental management is a challenge. However, fire management plans specific to Wilderness areas and pre-fire mitigation efforts can decrease unnecessary and damaging fire-fighting tactics. Fire management plans can establish which minimally impactful tools will be used to fight fires in Wilderness areas, and designate where dozer lines will be placed if needed. Taking precautionary action and creating fire management plans specific to Wilderness areas can reduce the spread of wildfire while preserving the health of the forest ecosystem.
California Wilderness Coalition is working with key members of Congress to encourage legislation mandating fire management plans in Wilderness areas like Bucks Lake.