Monday, August 13, 2018

YOSEMITE BURNING by Zina Abbott



Today marks the one month anniversary of the Ferguson Fire that started July 13, 2018 near El Portal, just west of Yosemite National Park. 

July 14, 2018- Fire above Merced River taken from around El Portal, Califirnia
As of today, it has burned 96,457 acres with 86% containment and 1,020 personnel that are currently engaged on the fire which include 69 engines, 6 water tenders, 5 helicopters, 16 crews, 2 masticator and 14 dozers. 

There have been 19 firefighter injuries reported. The two fatalities on the fire were HFEO Braden Varney was killed in a dozer rollover accident on July 14, and Brian Hughes, Arrowhead Hotshot Captain who lost his life on July 29 when he was struck by a tree during a firing operation.


10 structures have been destroyed. With summer daytime temperatures in the triple digits most of the month this fire has been fought, it has been a hot fire fight in more ways than one.

Photo taken August 1, 2018, ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service
The Ferguson Fire is now the largest fire in the Sierra National Forest's History. This fire is being managed as a full suppression fire. Although it started outside Yosemite National Park, it burned into the park and even threatened Yosemite Valley, one of the main tourist centers of the park. All roads except the one over Tioga Pass were closed for weeks. The park has been closed to visitors,  although it is scheduled to reopen tomorrow even though there will still be firefighters working in the area. Wawona and Mariposa Grove reopened today.

It will probably go down as the second biggest fire in Yosemite history. The largest was the Rim Fire of 2013 that burned 257,314 acres.



How was fire management started in national parks such as Yosemite National Park?

The 19th century was a period of rapid western expansion for America and the general rule was to transfer the public domain (Federal land) into private ownership. But a growing number of Americans wanted to see the Federal Government withdraw certain tracts of the public domain from private settlement and manage the areas in trust for present and future generations.

Two parallel movements emerged to address the disposition of the public domain. One was the drive to "preserve" the Nation's natural wonders from privatization. The other was to "conserve" the Nation's storehouse of lumber trees. The first could be said to have started in 1864 when the United States Government gifted the Yosemite Grant and Mariposa Grove to the State of California. In 1866, the California State Legislature accepted this land grant with the understanding that the areas were to be managed for the benefit of present and future generations. Although it was a State park, these two grants signaled the beginning of a federal park program.
 
Guide near large tree in Mariposa Grove-Yosemite Park
The advent of a true national park system came with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 in Wyoming, some 18 years before Yosemite itself became a national park.

The United States Army was assigned the responsibility to patrol and protect Yosemite and Sequoia national parks between 1891 and 1913, and, in that capacity, it helped create a model for park management as we know it today. These army troops were garrisoned at the Presidio of San Francisco during the winter months and served in the Sierra only during the summer months. African-American troops of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry protected both Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in 1899, 1903, and 1904. 

Buffalo Soldiers of the 124th Infantry Division in Yosemite 1899

The Army's role included the detection and suppression of wildfire within park boundaries. This was no small task considering the size of the sanctuary, the crude equipment at hand, and the few troops that were assigned. Even though the U.S. Cavalry was a far cry from the wildland fire profession of today, they nonetheless represented the beginning of a Federal wildland fire protection program.

Bernhard Fernow, Division of Forestry Chief from 1886 to 1898, endorsed the creation of forest reserves and pointed out the need to transfer control of these lands from the General Land Office to the Department of Agriculture. This would insure that government foresters would have the leverage needed to enforce proper timber management practices. Fernow even drafted an organizational scheme that included the idea that "rangers" would be in charge of the smallest administrative units. Stiff opposition against creating federal reserves was overcome in 1891 when Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act. The President was given the authorization to permanently withdraw from the public domain, forestlands he deemed of national importance.

Fire near Mariposa Pines-ctsy U.S. Forest Service
Fernow's efforts to wrestle control of the Forest Reserves from the Department of Interior fell to his successor, Gifford Pinchot, who is considered the "father" of the Forest Service. He served as Chief Forester from 1898 to 1910. His close friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt undoubtedly played a key role in the latter's executive order, of early 1905, which transferred the growing collection of Forest Reserves from the Interior Department to the Department of Agriculture. Within a few weeks of Roosevelt's order, Pinchot reorganized the Agriculture Department's Bureau of Forestry into the United States Forest Service. In 1907, the Forest Reserves were renamed National Forests.

The U.S. Forest Service became the Nation's primary instrument, for protecting natural resources on Federal land from fire and from timber exploitation. In the teens the National Park Service was established, and charged with protecting the Nation's scenic wonders.



Please give all firefighters battling fires across the North American continent your prayers and well-wishes that they will stay safe as they protect the forests, homes, and lives of our citizens. As you can see from the photo below, the high number of dead trees due to a bark beetle infestation within the last several years has not helped.
 
Burning operations behind Jerseydale Ranger Statioon July 27, 2018-ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service
Many of my stories, including my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series set near Lundy and Bridgeport east of Yosemite National Park, are set in the Sierra Nevada Mountain area on both the east and the west slopes. To see all my published books on Amazon, please CLICK HERE.

Below are photos from the public domain of the brave firefighters of today who have been battling the Ferguson Fire in Yosemite National Park this past month. They are not out of the woods – and we in the San Joaquin Valley are not out of the smoke caused by this fire – yet.
 
7-24-18 crew at helibase Round Valley-Bald Mountain-ctsy Ian Cosenza, US Forest Service
 
Arrowhead IHC crew members crossing Merced River to get to fire ctsy US Forest Service

Arroyo Grande Hotshots July 31, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Serv

Cal Fire Gulf Crews July 26, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Chumash Engine 802 firefighter cooling edge July 28, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Dalton Hotshots July 26, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Greyback Forestry July 31, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service

Hotshots working the line July 28, 2018 ctsy US Forest Service

July 23, 2018 Ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Service

Swampers Burden July 30, 2018 ctsy Team Rubicon, US Forest Service

Tahoe Hotshot lighting burn operation July 28, 2018 ctsy Kari Greer, US Forest Serv



Taken July 27, 2018, ctsy Kari Greer, U.S. Forest Service

Sources:

Friday, August 10, 2018

New Release in the Oak Grove Series!


by Kathryn Albright


 I am happy to announce a new release in the Oak Grove Series!
 
   
    Here’s the back cover blurb ~

Can a Widow in the Wild West …find wedded bliss again?

When Cassandra Stewart fulfills her husband’s dying wish by visiting the ranch he loved, she plans to sell it. But then she meets his best friend. As aloof, ruggedly handsome Wolf shows Cassandra the value of life in the prairies, tenderness begins to grow from their shared pain into something more… Maybe there is a future for her at the Rocking S Ranch after all…

The hero in this story captured my heart. I have a soft spot for the competent, yet brooding type and Wolf is all that. What traits say “hero” to you?

 I also wanted to share a short book trailer…


 

And an excerpt from Chapter One ~

Oak Grove, Kansas, 1878

Raymond Wolf rammed the oil-soaked cloth down the rifle’s barrel for one last coating, making sure the path was smooth and slippery without any catches. It had to be perfect if it was to be his best friend’s wedding present.

The long swab pressed against the farthest end of the shaft, and at the same moment, something squeezed in Wolf’s chest. An invisible weight descended, as if the very air pressed down on him. Maybe he had been working too hard. He’d had that large order to finish for Dodge City last week, which demanded all of his time. This was the first chance he’d had to work on Doug’s rifle.

The sensation grew stronger. Doug’s face filled his mind. He set the rifle barrel on his workbench and clutched the turquoise stone at his neck. The small workshop, the snow falling outside the front window, all faded away into a gray mist. Then his friend’s face faded too. Something had happened.

“Wolf?” Jackson Miller spoke from the doorway, breaking into the strange fog. Miller stepped inside quickly, followed by another man—a stranger—and shut the door. “Got a man here looking for you.”

Wolf released his grip on the stone and struggled to shake off the premonition. He stood and backed away from his work area, staring at the hammer, trigger guard and bow drill that lay on the table. Absent only a moment ago, now the strong scent of oil and varnish filled the air once more.

Miller stepped farther into the room and removed his flat cap. “Are you all right?”

Wolf looked up, still slightly dazed. “Miller,” he said, acknowledging his neighbor.

Then his thoughts cleared, and he noticed the short, pudgy man in a gray suit peering around Miller’s shoulder. Wolf wiped the oil from his hands on an old rag and slowly removed his shop apron, hanging it from its neck loop on the peg beside the window. He turned back to the two men. “What can I do for you?”

“Raymond Wolf?” the stranger asked, his gaze dubious.

Outsiders always took a moment to adjust to his looks. Confusion happened first, quickly followed by suspicion, and then the lingering unspoken question: Why wasn’t he on a reservation with the rest of his tribe? And more than that—was he dangerous? Wolf counted it ironic that along with his appearance, the profession he had fallen into—gunsmithing—also made them nervous. It was ironic and, if he was truthful, satisfying.

“Excuse me. My name is Franklin Masters. I…uh…have some unfortunate news regarding an acquaintance of yours. A Mr. Douglas Stewart.”

Wolf blew out his breath and braced himself. He knew what would be said before the man continued. His friend—his blood brother—wouldn’t be coming home.

Wedding at Rocking S Ranch © by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

   
    To purchase your own copy:

    HARLEQUINhttps://bit.ly/2LtXoap

    AMAZON:  http://a.co/2IhOtfv
 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Icebox Cake

by Shanna Hatfield

choc icebox platdWhen the weather is hot and I’m feeling lazy, I like to focus as little attention as possible on spending time in the kitchen. That’s one reason I love good old-fashioned icebox cakes. They come together in a snap, can be made the night before, and taste wonderful.
Icebox cakes have been around a long, long time. In fact, they are derived from ice cream cakes of the 19th century which come from Colonial era Charlottes, and those decadent desserts descend from Renaissance ear trifles.
Icebox cakes, as Americans know and love them today, were introduced during World War I. It was a fast, easy, economical way to serve dessert. In the 1920s, the cakes became a "modern" trend, embracing commercial-made shortcuts like packaged ladyfingers, graham crackers and cookies purchased at the grocer's store. 
Companies making ingredients for these desserts, such as condensed milk and wafer cookies) began including recipes with their products and in company brochures. 
Enjoy this recipe for a chocolate icebox cake!

Ingredients ... and out of the 396 packages of Oreos at the store, of course I grab the one with birthday sprinkles in the filling!
Ingredients … and out of the 396 packages of Oreos at the store, of course I grab the one with birthday sprinkles in the filling!

Start by crushing the cookies into small, obliterated chunks. You can do this in the food processor, with a meat tenderizer, or have your husband beat them to death. Captain Cavedweller happened to wander into the kitchen at just the right time and got put into service as the cookie pounder.
Start by crushing the cookies into small, obliterated chunks. You can do this in the food processor, with a meat tenderizer, or have your husband beat them to death. Captain Cavedweller happened to wander into the kitchen at just the right time and got put into service as the cookie pounder.

While the cookies are being pulverized, whip the cream until thick and luscious. I added about a half-cup of powdered sugar, to give it a little sweetness. Just stir in gently once the whipping cream is thoroughly whipped.
While the cookies are being pulverized, whip the cream until thick and luscious. I added about a half-cup of powdered sugar, to give it a little sweetness. Just stir in gently once the whipping cream is thoroughly whipped.

Spread the cookies into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and press down.
Spread the cookies into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and press down.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Then add in pudding and milk, blending well.
Then add in pudding and milk, blending well.

Pour half the mixture over the top of the cookie crumbs. Work with some sense of urgency at this point because it won't take long for the pudding to begin to set.
Pour half the mixture over the top of the cookie crumbs. Work with some sense of urgency at this point because it won’t take long for the pudding to begin to set.

Fold half the whipping cream into the remainder of the pudding mixture.
Fold half the whipping cream into the remainder of the pudding mixture.

Spoon on top of pudding mixture already in the pan, then top with remaining whipping cream.
Spoon on top of pudding mixture already in the pan, then top with remaining whipping cream.

Spread whipping cream evenly over the top. You can get all fancy and make designs... or not.
Spread whipping cream evenly over the top. 
You can get all fancy and make designs… or not.

I sprinkled mini chocolate chips all over the top of mine. You can add shaved chocolate, toasted coconut, drizzle it with caramel sauce. Whatever strikes your fancy.
I sprinkled mini chocolate chips all over the top of mine. You can add shaved chocolate, toasted coconut, drizzle it with caramel sauce. Whatever strikes your fancy.
The end result is a delicious layered dessert that tastes divine and only takes about 15-20 minutes to whip up.
The end result is a delicious layered dessert that tastes divine and only takes about 15-20 minutes to whip up.

Chocolate Icebox Cake
2 small boxes of instant chocolate pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
1 15.5oz. package of Oreo cookies
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Optional toppings (mini chocolate chips, shaved chocolate, coconut, caramel sauce)
Crush cookies until cookies and filling and blended into a crumbly mass (or mess, depending on who you ask).  Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
Whip cream until peaks form. I like mine sweet, so I add about 1/2 cup of powered sugar and stir in gently.
In another bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth then add in pudding mixes and milk. Beat until well blended.
Immediately pour of the pudding mixture over the cookie crumbs in pan. Add half whipping cream to the remaining pudding mixture and stir until blended. Spoon over top of crust and filling in pan.
Top with remaining whipped cream.
Add whatever toppings you like then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit over night in fridge. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
~*~
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up dreamy characters, twisting plots, or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
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