California Fires: Want to Control Blazes? Start More, Experts Say

by on August 27, 2020 · 1 comment

in California, Environment

Why one of the most feasible solutions for worsening wildfires is doing more prescribed burns.

By Jill Cowan / New York Times / Aug. 26, 2020

As Californians brace for more bad news about what is already shaping up to be one of the state’s most intense fire seasons ever, and as we watch as firefighting capacity is stretched thin, I keep coming back to one question: What is California supposed to do?

This question isn’t new, and neither are many of the answers experts and policymakers routinely offer.

For one, they say, too many people are moving into the wildland-urban interface, the transitional zones between denser areas of human development and vegetation, which makes them more vulnerable to damage in the event of a wildfire.

The solutions to that problem, however, are as complex as the countless reasons people are moving into such areas — not least of which is the state’s housing crisis, pushing Californians farther outside of big cities. Which leaves what Daniel Swain, a California climate expert, told me are essentially smaller-scale fixes.

Communities and homeowners themselves can better prepare by clearing fire breaks or using more fire-resistant building materials in higher-risk areas. Local officials can better plan to evacuate ahead of fast-moving blazes.  And leaders say utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric, whose infrequently maintained equipment sparked the state’s deadliest fire, must be held accountable.

At the end of the day, though, Mr. Swain said, California’s weather is expected to become even more extreme in coming years. “The big picture solution is realizing there is going to be a lot more fire on the landscape,” he said. And so, he added, “I don’t see how we get out of this without allowing a lot more to burn.”

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sealintheSelkirks August 29, 2020 at 2:09 pm

This has been said for years but the logging industry…oops… Forest Service doesn’t listen because they’re all about timber company sales and putting roads in roadless areas to ‘access the forest products.’ UGH. I’ve got a wildlands FS firefighters stepdaughter and husband and the younger stepdaughter first enrolled at Humboldt State as a wildlife biology major before her prof told the class that anybody that graduates with that degree will be working for either timber companies, oil companies, or for the FS setting up timber sales. She’s now a veterinary surgeon instead because she can actually help our fellow species instead of hurting them. I’ve heard the argument between the sisters…UGH again!

The Native populations practiced this, small burns of underbrush but NOT taking down the big trees in the forests because they survive the fires, for thousands of years. But then private property/capitalism came to this continent and it became all about profits. So what we have now is privatized profits with socialized environmental costs. Who says this country hates Socialism…or at least this kind! A few links below and one piece of good news!

>Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology
>Alliance for the Wild Rockies
>Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force in Missoula, Montana
>Center for Biological Diversity

>George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. He serves on the board of the Western Watersheds Project.

The good news:

After more than 200 years, Esselen Tribe rightfully regains ancestral lands in California

In an otherwise unbroken stretch of some pretty depressing news, one uplifting tidbit comes from California, where the Esselen Tribe is finally getting back some of its ancestral lands. The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, a nonprofit designed to preserve tribal heritage, is being transferred ownership of just under two square miles of the undeveloped property in Big Sur. The land is about five miles from the ocean and has previously been known as the Adler Ranch. As Tom Little Bear Nason, chairman of the Essen Tribe of Monterey County, told Monterey County Weekly: “We are back after a 250-year absence—because in 1770 our people were taken to the missions.” He added: “Now we are back home.”



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