Wildfire season begins in the time of Trump

For the past several years Spring wildfire seasons have begun in eastern Colorado, western Kansas, the panhandles of Oklahoma, Texas and other Republican-held areas where moral hazard and poor ranching practices have decimated the high plains. Dead grasses are potentially explosive in a region where bison would have been clearing fine, flashy fuels just 150 years ago.

The Trump Organization has blamed California wildfires on the lack of logging with statements typically devoid of facts but the real culprits are downed power lines and a warming climate. Over a half million wildfires are started by arsonists every year in the US and if you live in the wildland-urban interface government can't always protect you from your own stupidity. If counties and states just burned off their road and highway rights of way every year that creates substantial fire breaks.

Volunteer fire departments are irreplaceable as first responders to unexpected blazes and if the Federal Emergency Management Agency survives a Trump presidency Democrats should convince Congress to make sure the resources are there to sustain rural fire departments. But Trump's Forest Service chief who despite spending 26 years as a wildland firefighter and was emboldened last year is too bullied this year to manage fuels on national forest ground.

Early season wildfires are not unusual in New Mexico either. 2018's fire season began in March because ponderosa pine sucks millions of gallons from aquifer recharges, needles absorb heat and accelerate snow melt in a state that has been home to a much larger aspen community in the fairly recent past.
With the northern regions of New Mexico now in conditions ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the State Forestry Division is anticipating what it calls normal fire activity. What isn’t normal are the new guidelines firefighters must follow to help prevent them and members of the public from spreading or becoming infected with the novel coronavirus. Even in the wilderness, firefighters must continue social distancing and hand-washing, practices intended to slow the spread of the virus. The State Forestry Division also will get help this year in its wildfire response effort from Santa Fe technology firm Descartes Labs. The company has developed a rapid wildfire alert program that can detect temperature increases using satellite data, according to a news release. [Wildland firefighters prep for new guidelines to protect against virus spread]
Even Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today who is based in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal is scared shitless. You can read that here.

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