SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) – Sacramento County Regional Parks officials say aggressive fire-prevention tactics by maintenance crews played a big role in controlling last Thursday’s fire near Cal Expo.
The fire burned more than 100 acres along the American River Parkway; however, parks rangers say the fire could have been a lot more destructive.
Tractors plowed debris from the burn site near Cal Expo on Monday as the mop-up stage continued after Thursday’s raging fire.
“It would have been a lot worse if we didn’t cut fire lines or use the goats to graze,” said Stan Lumsden, commander for Sacramento County’s Regional Parks.
He says most of the area that burned along the American River Parkway was already mowed down by maintenance crews who also cut fire lines earlier in the summer.
“We started goat and sheep grazing about two years ago, and we’ve also partnered with the Sacramento Fire Department to do back burns, which also help to reduce fuels,” Lumsden added.
But Michelle Stevens, an environmental science professor at CSU Sacramento, says the back burns are destroying habitats for wild animals.
“These fires are not only devastating, they are really devastating for us studying the animals and seeing their habitat burn and destroy,” said Stevens.
Stevens said the damaged habitats will take at least ten to 20 years to grow back.
Lumsden says keeping the area free of any fire hazards is a year-round process that is necessary, in light of the severe statewide drought.
Lumsden says in 2015, there were 81 wildfires –- a total of 43 at this time of the year.
While Stevens praises the county for its use of graze management to reduce fires, she says she hopes the county can reconsider the controlled burns and instead plant native species that would prevent the fire from burning more rapidly into the fuels.
Lumsden says maintenance crews manage at least 5,000 acres within the county and can’t target every area; parks rangers are looking to the community for help, and ask that they report any suspicious activity, including fires, to them immediately.