Splat Implementation - Aug 15, 2008

Splat Implementation - Aug 15, 2008 by George Terhune, at 12:11 p.m. on 9 September 2008,

Regarding the three page "Last Chance Project Area SPLAT Development" paper, it illustrates once again that the so-called "SPLATs" being implemented bear virtually no relationship to the "strategic pattern" that the Framework EIS claims would be provided. The EIS very clearly says the basis of the SPLAT strategy is the "Finney theory," which isn't just a bunch of "speed bumps" scattered across the landscape, but a regular (in fact rather rigidly defined) pattern of treatments at landscape scale. The so-called SPLATs discussed in the paper have no particular geometric definition and they don't fit any landscape-scale pattern that is stated or discernible.

First, though, I guess I had better ask whether the blue squiggles on the map are the treatments. It doesn't say, but I assume they are, and will proceed on that basis. The focus of my comment is on the first two sentences of the second paragraph of the paper.

The first claim is that "The SPLATs proposed in the Last Chance Project Area continue the ongoing process of development of a pattern of treatments across the landscape." What pattern? The difference between a proper "pattern" and an unplanned scatter is that any pattern that deserves the name has to be established ahead of time. Exactly how do these treatments fit into a landscape-scale strategic pattern? The plain answer is that they don't. Of it they do, why isn't that pattern indicated (or at least clearly described) in the document? And if it exists, why isn't SNAMP applying its adaptive management tests to the pattern, which is the most crucial characteristic, not just the individual treatments? Then the paper claims that "Effective SPLATs are characterized by more open stands of larger fire resistant trees with reduced amounts of ladder and surface fuels." Well, that's pretty good motherhood and apple pie, but it is not a valid statement of what differentiates a SPLAT from any other fuel reduction treatment. The defining characteristic of a SPLAT, as explained in the EIS, is that each treatment is part of a strategic pattern which slows and moderates the fire due to the pattern of treatments, and the claimed effectiveness of such a pattern depends critically on the sizes, shapes, spacing, and overlaps of the individual treatment areas, not just the fuel reduction done within each area. If you don't achieve that landscape-scale effect from the pattern of treatments, you don't have a SPLAT.

Or, to put it the other way around, if you claim that any treatment which meets the criteria stated in the above-quoted sentence is a SPLAT, you have destroyed the meaning of the term that was clearly intended in the EIS.

I won't carry the argument further in this context, because I have already explained the deficiencies of the SPLAT strategy and its proposed implementation at greater length in a different paper "The False Promise of SPLATs." No amount of SNAMPing is going to fix those fundamental and fatal deficiencies.

George Terhune

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