For many decades the potential for catastrophic wildfires in the U.S. has been increasing annually. This is true over much of the U.S. but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the western forests. Previous management practices, beetle infestation and plant diseases have rendered much of the western forests tinder boxes just waiting for the right (or wrong) conditions to ignite and drive them. The danger to homes, lives, wildlife, ecosystems, and air quality is tremendous and real and requires immediate action.
There are three fronts from which our reactions can be focused and all three fronts require our attention. There is a proactive front which includes removing the amassed ladder fuels (underbrush) in the forest. This underbrush allows for fires to elevate quickly to the tops of trees which is where a fire can spread most quickly. There are many options for ladder fuel and underbrush removal including tracked forestry mulching machines, mulching attachments and tree shears. Proper clearances and fire breaks are created around homes that border the forests to create defensible space for the communities.
Next is the reactive front. This involves an active wildfire. Commonly bulldozers plow fire lines on an active fire. Larger forestry mulchers are an additional tool that must be considered. These units have a massive mulching capability and can mulch material directly into the ground to prevent leaving flammable material behind. Bulldozers have their place on an active fire but the clean up after the fire must be considered. Where a bulldozer pushes trees out of the way to clear a fire line, it leaves a mess in its wake that needs to be attended to after the active fire operations are completed. Larger forestry mulchers leave minimal clean up requirements and can help reduce the overall costs of active fire mitigation.
Finally, the clean up stage. After the fire is out and clean up efforts are under way, it is important to ensure minimal water pollution and soil erosion. Tracked forestry mulching machines, mulching attachments and an excavator with a mulching attachment can provide a top layer of mulch to prevent soil erosion on slopes or by mulching material into the ground to minimize water pollution.