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Aug 29, 2023 | Blog, Summer Intern Blog

Aug. 29, 2023

Anthony Cafferata

This week was another fun and exciting week at Starker Forests consisting of stream surveys, timber cruising and firefighting.

Monday, I did stream surveys with Joseph. This one particular stream we did was quite steep and offered a terrific view from the channel initiation point. Quite a few factors led to the view being terrific; getting to the top was difficult as there was stinging nettle over my head on uneven steeper ground (not Fred’s definition of steep) and it was bar time. Joseph and I took the time to eat a Clif Bar while we appreciated the view after the hard work to get there.

The amazing view is reward for hard work.

It’s not always easy finding the streams.

Sabrina and I paired up from Tuesday to Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday were stream surveys and Thursday was timber cruising. The unit “Sand Pit View” was our first stop. Lys warned us it would be miserable because it was overgrown with salmonberry bushes. We ended up completing 2.5 units that day. Wednesday, we finished the unit we hadn’t finished (“PG Corner”) and moved on to North Buel. The first stream here was very difficult to find and mark. It was in a wide expanse of grasses and blackberry bushes. Finding the tributary junction and channel proved a challenge. Sabrina and I had several close calls barely escaping falls into the stream because we could not see it until we put our feet down.

Thinned stands make cruising easier and cuts down on fire fuel.

A change of pace on Thursday from stream surveys to timber cruising had Sabrina and I finishing up a unit that Joseph and I had started (“Post Grey CTL”). We finished up the last 14 plots at that stand and on our way out, we saw a cow elk. It was very exciting, as it is always fun to discuss the different types of wildlife we see each day. We did not get a picture as it happened too fast and we weren’t prepared to take a photo.

Friday was exciting. The lightning storm that happened on Thursday night gave way to many fires in the coast range. Upon arriving at work the next morning, Lys told us that we would have a day at the office so if, and when, they needed us on a fire we would not be out of cell range. We occupied ourselves until 11:30 or so when Lys called to give us a township, range, and section to meet her to help put out a fire that had started due to lightning hitting a tree.

Joseph is on the other side of the first, small fire.

We showed up to find a small fire, not exceeding half an acre. We (the interns) quickly took up the task of digging a fire line around the fire’s flanks coming off the road going down and around the heat and flames. As a line was being built, the Starker fire engine was supplying water to the hose lay. Carefully, and as to not waste water, we gradually worked into the “black,” spraying a slow but constant stream of water and digging out hotspots.

By 4:30 p.m., we had mopped up the fire and completed a hand line around the fire. We left to go to the second fire, comfortable that the fire would not start up again. Even so, we left a hose lay ready to go just in case.

Anthony Cafferata, Joseph Shapiro, Caroline Puckett and Kathy Young in between fires

The second fire was in a younger “reprod” stand. The trees were probably 5-7 feet tall and spaced out quite a bit. By the time I got there with Stephen, I had gotten on the fire engine after the first fire to grab a portable tank from the office so I arrived about 30 minutes after the other interns, the fire was all but reduced to small flames, smoke and the occasional torching tree.

Kathy hosing down hot spots.

There was a dozer line around the entire fire, and I was super happy to hear that a hand line was not going to be necessary. I grabbed a shovel and paired with Caroline to help dig out hot spots while she used the hose. Our instructions were to work 25 feet into the “black” cooling off the hot spots with water to ensure that the fire couldn’t jump the fire line. We worked until the fire was under control. It was around 8 p.m. when we headed back to the office for the night.

– Anthony Cafferata

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