More than half the nation's federal forest estate – some 100 million acres – is either dying, dead or has already burned. About 73 million acres have burned over the last 10 years – most of it in western national forests. 9.6 million acres this year.
This is Part 2 of our series "It's Time to Declare War on Wildfire." This section begins with Rob Freres describing the impacts of wildfire on private lands due to the incompetence of the Forest Service managing public lands.
The immediate need is to rebuild the forestry side of the Forest Service. This means that Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress need to find an extra $5 billion in Fiscal 2021. Funds must be specifically allocated for forestry staffing and forest management – not wildfire.
I have been writing about the wildfire crisis in our national forests for 30-plus years – long enough to have developed a solid understanding of it underlying causes.
The time has come for society to consider alternatives to fires so large that they escape suppression efforts, often with deadly consequences. If we don't like the fire trajectory we are on – and I don’t - shouldn’t we try something different?
Now that Congress has resolved the fire funding mess – at least temporarily - Interim Forest Service Chief, Vicki Christiansen, has had much to say about how she intends to more aggressively attack these fires and their primary underlying cause.
Musk's “flamethrower,” which sells for $500 and looks a lot like an assault rifle [probably intentionally] has already attracted the unwanted attention of U.S. Customs officials, prompting Musk to Twitter that a “rebranding” effort may be needed. No kidding.
We can learn much from our nation's forest priorities, policies and practices, which have always tracked with our country’s ever-shifting felt necessities. But the blame game is a useless and unhelpful exercise. What would be helpful is a more constructive rural-urban dialogue about the losses we are all suffering, and what we can do collectively [politically] to mitigate them.
When we leave forests to Nature, as so many people today seem to want to do, we get whatever Nature serves up, which can be pretty devastating at times. But with forestry we have options, and a degree of predictability not found in Nature.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that 90 million acres of the nation's federal forest estate are in Condition Class 3 or 2 – a fire ecologists’ rating system that attempts to account for the ecological damage a wildfire might do to a forest. Class 3 forests are said to be “ready to burn,” while Class 2 forests soon will be.