Thursday, July 23, 2009

Viewshed protections

City or county ordinances that protect viewsheds would prevent the construction of the homes shown here at the top of the valley slopes, but considering the recent fire that scorched the slopes on the left, it would be a good idea to prevent such construction. The vegetation on these slopes is collectively referred to as chaparral, which has it origin in the Spanish word chamas, for fire. Burning vegetation combined with the steep slopes creates a chimney effect, pulling hot air in, heating it, sending it upward, carrying heat and flames with it.

Chamise, a dominate plant in the chaparral is also called "greasewood" for its tendancy to burn. Fire is common. It has shaped the chaperal biome. It will continue to occur and will have to be managed. But the only way these few homes on top of slope will be safe is to eliminate the chaparral below them, which alters the view of the this slope as seen by thousands of residents in the valley. Remaking the vegetation would also displace many animals and elimate the plants that grow here and this portion of the hillside will stop serving as a corridor for the movement of species and genetic diversity between fragments of the Cleveland National Forest.

I'll be watching this hillside to see if it recovers naturally or preventative measures are taken for the sake of the few houses on the top.


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