News Story Falsely Claims “Everything is Dead” One Year After Yosemite Fire

Year-old AP article that Misrepresented US Forest Service Scientists and the Impact of the 2013 Rim Fire is Released as “News” by CBS Affiliate

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The CBS affiliate in Sacramento, California, recycled a sensationalized 2013 Associated Press news article this week with a new headline that falsely claimed “1 Year Later, Scientists Find Yosemite Rim Fire Left Behind a Sierra Moonscape.” The US Forest Service, scientists, and environmental groups called for the article to be withdrawn immediately.

“It’s hardly a moonscape,” said Robert Guy, Research Associate for the California Chaparral Institute. “The post-fire environment within the Rim Fire area is exploding with new life. Conifer seedlings, shrubs, wildflowers, and a wonderful variety of birds and insects can be found nearly everywhere.”

John Heil, the Press Officer for the US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, asked CBS to remove the story from their website. He said the quotes from one of their researchers were, “taken out of context and misquoted/misrepresentation” of what was said to the Associated Press reporter over a year ago.

Commenting on the importance of the post-fire environment, ecologist Chad Hanson from the John Muir Project wrote, “…the post-fire habitat created by patches of high-intensity fire, known as ‘snag forest habitat,’ is one of the most ecologically important of all forest habitat types, and it supports levels of native biodiversity and wildlife abundance equal to or greater than unburned old-growth forest.”

News reports often describe wildfires in sensational terms that leave an inaccurate picture in the public’s mind about the role of fire in the environment. While wildfires can certainly be devastating to human communities that are not firesafe and can convert native shrublands such as chaparral to weedlands if too frequent, fire in forests restores habitat that many species depend upon.

CBS responded by modifying the title of the article and correcting the date, but has the public questioning the intentions of the so-called news source, especially when a decision about a controversial “salvage” logging proposal for the Rim Fire area is about to be made.
For more on the Rim Fire, USFS plans to “salvage” log the area, and the value of burned forests, please visit our webpage:
http://www.californiachaparral.org/fire/postfireenvironment.html

The corrected version of the AP/CBS article can be found at the link below. The previous dateline was August 3, 2014.
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/09/18/scientists-find-scorched-yosemite-rim-fire-land-sierra-moonscape/

Photos below from May, 2014, show significant conifer seedling and other signs of recovery within the Rim Fire area.

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