Treat homes, not forests, to reduce wildfire risk

Recently Donald Trump used his executive authority to mandate increased logging of our public lands with the goal of reducing wildfire threat to communities. His order instructs land managers to treat (read log) 8.45 million acres of land and cut 4.4 million board feet of timber ostensibly to reduce fire hazard.

Unfortunately, the mandate ignores the latest fire science which suggests you start at the home and work outwards to reduce fire risk to communities.  It’s time to change our fire policy to reflect what we are learning about the role of global heating in fire ecology and forest ecology.

Trying to minimize fire which is natural to most plant community in the West is wrong-headed. Instead, we must promote effective strategies that allow communities to persist in fire-prone ecosystems. We do this by reducing home construction in fire-prone landscapes and by reducing the flammability of homes.

Current fire policies focus on promoting forest alterations, mainly through logging, to change fire severity.   It is the lack of high severity fire that impoverishes many forest ecosystems.

Trump’s policies will harm forest ecosystems, while logging is one of the leading contributors to global GHG emissions, exacerbating global heating.

Most fires are small-burning less than 5 acres. These fires occur during low to moderate fire weather conditions. Though they account for 95-98% of all fires, they burn a small percentage of the landscape, and few threaten communities.

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