California Wildfires Create Opportunities for Woodworkers

Wildfire season is upon us and what’s shocking is that in June alone, there were 5,657 fires, making them the fifth most recorded incidences for a single month. Wildfires can break out at any moment during hot and dry summer months, putting homes and businesses at risk, not to mention injuring and taking the lives of many innocent people.

A single spark can ignite be it from a lightning strike, a fallen electrical pole, a lit cigarette, or a campfire can quickly erupt into a massive wildfire burning acres of land in fact, the 2nd highest on record was in 2018 where it burnt through 8,582,609 acres of land, which is approximated an average of 153.5 acres per fire. The annual impact of wildfires, to say the least, is catastrophic, causing widespread damage and in particular, those in northern California ended up consuming massive amounts of resources in 2018 to put them out.

Because wildfires have a unique profile compared to other natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, it means that they can come with little to no warning, making it challenging for businesses to take preemptive steps. Additionally, these fires that are more prevalent in the southwest can last for weeks or even months, and unlike other natural disasters, anyone, anywhere can start a fire at any time, thus posing a massive potential for them to occur in nearly all 50 U.S. states.

Taking general precautions, such as clearing dry grass and brush that come up during wet winter and mild spring, trimming trees near properties and evacuation, unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to protect people, homes or businesses in a wildfire-prone area from the wrath of a fast-moving fire.

Based on the numbers mentioned above of fires so far, it’s difficult to foresee how bad the next fire season will be and as the wildfires continue to wreak havoc, environmentalist, politicians and timber companies are debating whether thinning overly-dense forest lands that fuel the state’s deadly infernos is the way to go. Despite opposition from some environmental groups and firm California’s timber laws, the state’s timber industry could be the solution by selectively thinning forests of trees.

A project called My Sierra Woods (MSW) has a bold plan to leverage more than 720 projects across more than 42,000 acres in the program area, by using wood-products markets to offset project costs. This, in turn, will create a massive industry of wood rescuers, professional woodworkers, and hobbyist to create beautiful items from salvaged wood. Thinning of forests through selective removal of trees will reduce fuels and certainly create a more robust timber industry strategy in the state to create more jobs for woodworkers.

The timber industry is a profitable niche, and in this case, salvaged wood from post-fire logging is a significant contributor. Therefore, each time a forest burns, woodworkers lose precious timber that they can harvest and use for constructing homes and crafting beautiful wood-turning works of art.

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