Fire managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns. But it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current wildfires and conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest.
The guy who literally wrote the book the last time a prescribed burn got out of control in N.M. said it was "extremely risky" to ignite on a windy April day.— Source New Mexico (@source_nm) May 4, 2022
He also said a "murky" liability fight to come on the #CalfCanyon / #HermitsPeak fires.https://t.co/PcbbmpbXPJ #NMFire pic.twitter.com/UfeYdxD6qO
A Santa Fe National Forest crew ignited what was supposed to be the 1,200-acre Las Dispensas prescribed burn April 6, and officials have since said “unexpected erratic winds” fanned embers beyond the perimeter of the burn site. The prescribed burn was previously scheduled for mid-March, but officials called it off due to snow on the ground, according to a statement at the time. In May 2000, the National Park Service ignited a prescribed burn near Los Alamos. Winds also spun that fire out of control, eventually destroying hundreds of Los Alamos homes and causing $1 billion in damage. [U.S. Forest Service defends prescribed burn that caused Hermits Peak fire]New Mexico has been home to much larger aspen communities in the fairly recent past and because it reproduces clonally underground from adult trees aspen (Populus tremuloides) is one of the first plants to reestablish after fire. Fuel treatments on the Santa Fe National Forest helped contain the Medio Fire in 2020 and have been accelerated after President Joe Biden took the oath of office.
Steve Inskeep talks to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue about what the federal government can do to help reduce the risk from wildfires, like the ones devastating California.
INSKEEP: One other thing, Mr. Secretary. A couple of years ago, I got a chance to interview Robert Bonnie, who was then a top Agriculture Department official. He oversaw the U.S. Forest Service during the Obama administration. He named two big problems. One of them is fuel loads, which is what you and I have been talking about. The other is climate change. What is the role of climate change here? And how, if at all, does the legislation address that?
PERDUE: Well, we know that our forest fires in the last few years have gotten hotter. The humidity's gotten lower. Whether that's a cyclical change, we also - there are also data and history, Steve, that show back in the '30s there were huge major forest fires that make these look small even today. So we do know that we're back-to-back record years, and whether it's permanent climate change or a cycle of low humidity and hot air and wind currents, then it remains to be seen. [NPR]"Hot air," indeed.
“The most important tool for flashy fuels mitigation and maintenance is that which Nature had employed for millennia in North America; Large Native Species Herbivores (deer, wild horses, elk, bison).” https://t.co/IEZW8WNE0e— interested party (@larry_kurtz) March 7, 2022
“Despite the rise of headline-grabbing megafires, fewer fires are burning worldwide now than at any time since antiquity. But this isn’t good news – in banishing fire from sight, we have made its dangers stranger and less predictable” https://t.co/hNIddA31JF— interested party (@larry_kurtz) May 2, 2022