This was posted as a comment by Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute in previous posts, but it deserves to be on this blog as a guest post…so here it is. -mk
As with the Creek Fire, logging, habitat clearance, and the creation of forest plantations by private corporations and the US Forest Service in the Bear Fire area (in the northern Sierra Nevada) are making the fire worse and threatening lives as a result.
The Bear Fire area has been heavily logged over the past couple of decades – clearcuts, commercial thinning, “salvage” logging of snags, mostly on private lands but also quite a bit on National Forests too.
The Bear Fire dramatically expanded yesterday when it got to this massive area of heavy logging (see image below).
The Bear Fire is now over 200,000 acres (mostly from yesterday), and at least three people have been killed (see perimeter map below). This situation is very much like the Camp Fire in terms of the direct threat of recent logging to lives and homes, by contributing, along with the dominant force of extreme weather and climate change, to very rapid rate of fire spread, giving people little time to evacuate.
None of this is being seriously discussed in the leading media stories on the current fires.
The Main Take Aways
- Logging and forest plantation forestry is a contributor to increased fire spread and fire severity (Zald and Dunn 2018, Bradley et al. 2016 – see below).
- Weather and climate change are the dominant drivers of fire behavior.
- Promoting logging as “fuel reduction” under the guise of fire risk reduction flies in the face of the facts.
“Areas intensively managed burned in the highest intensities. Areas protected in national parks and wilderness areas burned in lower intensities. Plantations burn hotter in a fire than native forests do. We know this from numerous studies based on peer-reviewed science.”*– Dominick DellaSala
From: Exploring Solutions to Reduce Risks of Catastrophic Wildfire and Improve Resilience of National Forests. Congressional testimony by Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Sept. 27, 2017.
* The research cited above analyzed 1,500 fires in 11 Western states over four decades – an overwhelming convergence of evidence. Some of those studies include the following: