|5). We’ve been following along with your updates on your new website The Lookout over the past month or so. Would you like to talk about the inspiration behind it, how you see it evolving and your goals for the future of the website?
I have been publishing fire maps and commentary about forest management and wildfire behavior on Facebook for about a decade, mainly for things happening around Butte County and the Feather River. I started using Twitter last year and while it is great for networking with other fire geeks, both FB and Twitter really suck for discussing nuanced topics like forestry. I’m not interested in arguing with strangers, and there is just so much bullshit flooding social media.
We started The Lookout in August to write about the Dixie Fire. The local newspapers in Plumas and Lassen Counties closed their doors during Covid, and there is a huge need for local reporting. The site started getting a lot of traffic and people were generous in their donations, so I have been able to focus more of my time on reporting. I have been wanting to do more journalism around wildfire after getting involved with some documentaries after the Camp Fire in 2018, but with so many newspapers shutting down, I didn’t really know how to get into it. I think we just realized that having a website and Youtube is pretty much what journalism can look like, now.
We have invested some of our readers’ donations into audio and video gear, and I have been spending a day or two a week up in the Dixie Fire burn, getting footage of the fire effects and trying to get a feeling for what we should be focusing on now that the fire is out. My folks live in Westwood, brother Nils lives in Indian Valley and works for the Feather River Land Trust, and brother-from-another-mother Jake Blaufuss works in Quincy as a forester for SPI, so future forest and land management in the Dixie Fire/Lost Sierra is right up in the center of our lives right now. We are committed to reporting on topics like postfire restoration, adapting forestry to climate change, and community wildfire resilience.
My hope with this site is to help fill some kind of lookout role for the general public; keeping an eye on what’s happening on fires (and in fire policy), and communicating to the public what’s coming next.