The 3-day project is a cooperative effort between Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, the Madera County Fire Department, County Roads and the Sheriff’s Office.
Some 1,200 trees have been identified as posing a hazard to motorists in a six-mile stretch between Road 331 near the Bass Lake Courthouse, and Central Camp Road at the southeast end of the lake.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Chris Christopherson was pulling triple duty today, serving in his regular capacity as responding Battalion Chief, plus working as a Division Chief on the project, and the Incident Commander.
Christopherson says that they were able to use Road 432 as a detour yesterday, but once they moved east past the Pines Resort turnoff, traffic had to wait for the road to be cleared, and there were delays from 9 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Motorists should expect the same kind of delays on Thursday.
“We are working to minimize the impact to the roadway,” says Christopherson, noting that the 10 teams of fallers are dropping most trees into the forest. “But there are some trees that will only come down in the road.” Those trees are dropped, limbed, bucked into 10 foot lengths, and scooped off the roadway by loaders.
Though firewood cutting season has now closed on the Sierra National Forest, Christopherson says the Bass Lake Ranger District is making plans to issue special permits for the wood generated from this project. Anyone wishing to collect firewood along this stretch of Road 274 should contact the District Office at 559-877-2218 for more information.
Cal Fire Engines 4255 from Bass Lake, 4260 out of Usona, 4270 which has been covering Bass Lake, 4284 out of Raymond, and Coarsegold’s 4285 were all at the scene today, and all were prepared to respond to any emergencies as needed.
Thursday (Dec. 3) is the last day for the project, but weather may play a role. With rain in the forecast and low pressure moving in, the possibility of wind causing safety concerns is very real. If crews are called off, the remaining trees will have to be dealt with as time and resources are available.