The Moonlight Fire and DFPZs

The Moonlight fire may have been much smaller and caused less damage if appeals and lawsuits were not stalling the implementation of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act.

The Moonlight fire burned about 65,000 acres of forest in September of 2007.  Remarkably the forests burned in the Moonlight fire match up almost precisely with the strategic fuel break and fuel reduction treatments proposed in the Diamond Project.

Moonlight Fire
The Diamond Project proposed 5,532 acres of defensible fuel profile zones (DFPZs).  Additionally there were 8,820 acres of area treatments using single tree selection outside of the DFPZs and 1,128 acres of group selection.  There were also riparian and watershed treatments as well as road system improvements.

Scoping for the Diamond Project was conducted in the summer of 2005.  A draft Environmental Impact Statement was released in 2006.  Implementation was to have begun in 2007.

Moonlight Fire
click on map to enlarge

Area burned in the Moonlight Fire
Diamond Project Area

BUT, the Moonlight and Wild projects which were combined to become the Diamond Project were initially identified in the 2002 Plan of Work (  Were it not for the the appeals and litigation attempting to stop the Meadow Valley Project and Empire Projects on the Mount Hough Ranger District the proposed Moonlight fuelbreaks would likely have been in place and could have been a key suppression resource.

Moonlight fire

In light of the effectiveness of DFPZs demonstrated in the Wheeler Fire it is highly possible that the Moonlight fire could have been much smaller and caused much less damage.

In the image on the left is a hand constructed fire line that was enabled by fuel treatments well in advance of the fire.  The fire burned from left to right and stopped where the fuel had been removed.