Peace through victory - the American way.

Monday, August 07, 2006

There's Wildfire Fuel In Those San Diego Canyons Too.

Several years ago wildfires decimated San Diego County. (Here.) Many homes in the backcountry and on the outskirts of the city were destroyed. Their proximity to the fuel, brush and trees, doomed the homes. Three years later some in San Diego are pushing an initiative to preserve the many canyons that exist within the city limits. (Here.)

It's not known to many outside San Diego that our city is not just a coastal town. The attraction of a canyon view within San Diego's city limits rivals the best coastal views along our beaches. There are many canyons running throughout the city bringing a bit of the backcounty into urban neighborhoods. My densely populated neighborhood is flanked by canyons and is three miles from downtown and the harbor. In my twenty years of living here I've seen possums, racoons, skunks, and squirrels cross my backyard. One summer a pair of small foxes spent their days lounging on a ledge of the cliff that encloses my yard. Once a hawk swooped down to my patio and grabbed a dove that was feeding there.

I have to admit I like the canyons, the skunks notwithstanding. Canyon preservationists use a pretty metaphor to describe the canyons as "the lungs" of San Diego and relentlessly accentuate the positive. (Here.)

Yet there's something else about canyons that isn't so benign. The vegetation in the canyons is fuel for wildfires. And these canyons aren't far away in the backcountry next to a few scattered homes here and there. These canyons are found throughout the city right next to thousands of homes.

The people who lost homes in the Cedar fires three years ago mostly lived in rural San Diego County. But back in 1985 residents of Normal Heights, a neighborhood well within the city limits of San Diego, saw their homes burned to the ground by a fire that started in a nearby canyon. (Here.) Perhaps preserving the canyons isn't such a great idea, after all.


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