Fire Reports

The premier wildland fire experts in the country wrote separate reports on the impact of proposed logging by the San Jose Water Company in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed. Each individual visited the site of the proposed logging and analyzed the Fire Hazard Assessment written by TSS Consultants for the San Jose Water Company. Following are excerpts from their reports. The full reports can be found attached (below).

  • Dr. Phillip Omi - Professor, Forest Fire Science, Colorado State Univ.
  • Dr. Scott Stephens - Professor, Fire Science, Univ. of California,Berkeley
  • Richard Montague - Western Regional Director, US Forest Service (retired). President Firewise 2000

In addition, Dr. Mark Finney, Research Forester, USFS, Missoula, MT creator of the FlamMap computer model used by TSS Consultants, reviewed and concurred with Dr. Stephen's report.

Increase In Fire Hazard

"To open up the normally dense crown cover to more sunlight and solar heating will reduce live and dead fuel moisture, thereby increasing fire spread, fire intensity and flame lengths." -- Richard Montague

"Even with the recommended lop and scatter fuel treatment option described in the NTMP and Fire Hazard Assessment, it is my opinion that fire spread, fire intensity and flame lengths will be much higher after timber harvest than if the coast redwood and Douglas fir stands within the watershed are left in their natural state" -- Richard Montague

"Lopping and distributing fuels may increase fuelbed continuity and spread rate, depending on extent and quality of execution." -- Dr. Omi

"If thinning occurred it would open up the canopy and this would probably result in a forest with higher fire hazards." -- Dr. Stephens

Little/No Threat of Crown Fires

"Mature coast redwood stands usually will not support a crown fire without a heavy accumulation of ground fuels" -- Richard Montague

"Apparently, about 9% of the NTMP is susceptible to crown fire, approximately, 2/3 of which is off-limits to management activities.  Reducing the supposed crown fire threat on less than 3% of the total land area within the NTMP may not be meaningful or cost-effective" -- Dr. Omi

"Removing forest canopy by thinning this forest would not effectively reduce potential fire behavior and effects, especially in areas where redwood is the dominant species. Redwood foliage is not particularly flammable and there are few records of crown fires in redwood forests." -- Dr. Stephens

Regarding Fire Hazard Assessment by TSS Consultants

"It is my professional opinion that the conclusions and recommendations presented by TSS Consultants were based on incomplete or unsubstantiated data." "The data used (by TSS) does not appropriately reflect how coast redwoods and/or Douglas fir stands within the Bay Area react to wildfire." -- Richard Montague

"The TSS report is reasonably written but misguided and potentially misleading." "The report (TSS) is misleading insofar as it builds an apparent rationale for timber harvest under the guise of wildfire hazard reduction." -- Dr. Omi

"In summary, I believe the forest treatments outlined in the FHA (Fire Hazard Assessment) would not result in a reduction of fire behavior and effects in these redwood forests." -- Dr. Stephens


The full reports are attached below.

Rebecca Moore
November 28, 2006