Saturday, September 26, 2015

Paper: suppressing every wildfire “dangerous, expensive, and ill advised”


Mixed pine, fir and aspen stand after Las Conchas Fire

We all know this, right?
“We are in the middle of this 30,000-acre, near-treeless hole,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey. If historical patterns had held, the remaining pines would by now be preparing seeds to drop and start the cycle of regrowth. The trees in too-dense forests are already competing for water that the historically more sparse stands of trees might have found adequate; as drought increases, the stress will kill many trees outright and weaken others to the point that they become more vulnerable to predators like aggressive bark beetles. In an increasing number of cases, said Malcolm P. North, a research scientist with the United States Forest Service Pacific Southwest research station in Davis, Calif., “after the satellite trucks leave and everyone goes home, you have a charred condition on the landscape that does not have a historical precedent.” In a paper published last week in the journal Science, Dr. North and colleagues argued for ending the national policy of fighting every fire, and for making more concerted effort to thin forests so more fires might only scorch trees without destroying them. The authors called the traditional policy of trying to suppress every fire “dangerous, expensive, and ill advised.” [excerpt, John Schwartz]



Sentinels



Ortiz Mountains from burn



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