Wildfires – the causes and solutions
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That leaves the triggers -- grass, pine needles, undergrowth, smaller trees, etc. Can we do something about those? Yes, but it's controversial.Skip to next paragraph
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Anyone who had paid attention to the problem surely recognizes what occurs after every big wildfire. Fire-science experts say that overgrown forests must be thinned. Environmentalists say that thinning is really an excuse to engage in destructive logging. And then everybody heads to court.
It shouldn't be that way, he adds:
Overgrown forests must be thinned because they're dangerous firetraps. But they must be thinned the right way-- with underbrush removed, erosion prevented and water quality maintained.
Officials in Colorado Springs, Colo, say that one reason the California fires have been so large is that the forested areas were allowed to become overgrown. They've been cutting down trees to prevent it happening there.
But it's a complicated issue, as seen in this PDF from Defenders of Wildlife.
Among other solutions to prevent more extensive damage from fires, Robert Nelson of George Mason University suggests:
-- Allow local California communities a greater role in providing funds, setting spending priorities, and making fire management decisions for the nearby national forest lands;
-- Create state fire districts following the model of air and water districts already found in California and include national forest lands within those districts under their oversight with respect to fire prevention and suppression; or
-- Transfer fire management responsibility entirely to the state and local level.
When it comes to damage from fires, "There is actually more flammable material in a house per square yard than in a forest," said Michael Ghil, UCLA distinguished professor of climate dynamics and geoscience, as reported in Science Daily. "Our study shows that fireproofing of homes is important not only for the houses, but also for the forest."