BCHC Mid Valley Unit

President's Monthly Message


November, 2018

Michael King (Left) Michael King, and friend.

Greetings, Mid Valley Unit Members!

As I write this, our area and much of California sits under a blanket of choking wildfire smoke. Last week as I was on my way back from Sonoma to Modesto, I crossed the Rio Vista draw bridge on Hwy 12. It was so smoky there that one could hardly see the Sacramento River or the farm land from the road. That is no exaggeration either. The extreme smoky condition persisted clear to Modesto and Turlock, getting a bit better as I continued south. It seems that for most of the summer, to one degree or another, we have been living under a blanket of smoke.

For most of us, the smoke is largely just an inconvenience. For the people who called Paradise home, the fire currently causing most of the smoke here was devastating. The death toll from this fastmoving, wind-driven firestorm is climbing by the day. Right now it stands at 74 in Northern California, with a thousand or more listed as missing. The fire in Southern California adds another 5 people dead.

In the post-fire chaos, I imagine the various missing persons lists, when amalgamated, have many duplicates. Even if the lists are only 10 to 20 percent correct, that is anywhere from 100 to 200 additional potential fatalities. That is very sad and almost unimaginable. From reports I have read, the town of Paradise has been largely destroyed. Worse than that, families have been destroyed or forever altered. A very sad situation indeed.

Wildland fires are a fact of life in the West. They always have been and always will be. Just because we didn't personally experience them doesn't mean they historically didn't happen. In my short time on this earth, I cannot remember such a profound loss of life as I've witnessed over the past couple of fire seasons. From Santa Rosa, Red Bluff and Santa Barbara (post fire mud slides) to Paradise, the combined deaths number in the hundreds.

The culprits of these devastating fires are many: People increasingly building new homes in inappropriate places, people not keeping vegetation cleared back from their homes, a prolonged drought, unusually high winds, fuel buildup from large swaths of dead or dying forest caused by disease and bug infestations, a decades old practice of overzealous fire suppression that has contributed to the massive fuel buildup, "environmental" groups that sue to prevent any logging of dead trees and other common sense forest management practice, inadequate human escape routes and on and on. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Obviously this is a complex problem with no easy answers. Let's look at our own situations first and try to make our own homes as safe as reasonably possible, and defensible for the firemen. Make your property more fire safe by cutting back and trimming shrubbery. For the larger problem, we need to push for better forest management. We, as a society, need to take back management of our wildlands from extreme groups and let them be managed properly again with good and sound stewardship.

As we wind down November, I want to remind you of the upcoming Columbia Christmas Parade hosted by Mid Valley Unit. Held on the second Sunday of December, this parade has several goals including just having a good time, celebrating our good fortune and celebrating Christmas. We ask that you come to ride with the unit or watch and bring an unwrapped gift for a child, too. Mid Valley Unit collects these donations and hands them over to a local agency to give to children who would otherwise not have anything for Christmas.

I realize there is great need right now for so many people suffering devastating losses across the state. Little children, however, don't comprehend that. They just know that they did not receive anything for Christmas. Please help them out, if you have the means. Thank you all for your past and current generosity.

Also, the end of 2018 is staring us in the face, and that means board of director elections. Some incumbent directors are rerunning for their seats and at least one is stepping down for a while. We need a slate of good and committed folks to run for these positions. If you, or someone you know, wants to throw their hat in the ring, get ahold of Dennis Serpa, me or any board member and let them know. We will add the name to the ballot. Elections will be held at the Winter Round Up party in early January. Plan on coming to that, too!

I'm way past running out of room here, so I need to close. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. We have oh-so-much to be thankful for. Let's all keep that in mind as we get together with our families and friends. We are truly blessed.
Michael King

(Our President writes a message every month for the newsletter.)

Backcountry Horsemen of California - Mid Valley Unit
PO Box 1709
Modesto CA 95353-1709

Questions about the Mid Valley Unit? Ask Dennise Davis,
Questions about the web site? Ask Ted Pack,

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