Study: More Fires over 10 Years, then Fewer

This study is described here: Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline. The gist of it is that after a decade more of big, intense wildfires, there won’t be enough fuel left to sustain such large wildfires. Nature will take care of the fuels build-up if we don’t.

8 thoughts on “Study: More Fires over 10 Years, then Fewer”

  1. Well, this isn’t really rocket science. We can look at say the Hayman and see grasses and no trees ..
    we can look at places in the Sierra and see jackstrawed trees from previous fires and various kinds of fuel loadings. I even saw a place in eastern Oregon where the lodgepoles had burned, jackstrawed and the next fire through toasted the lodgepole seedlings coming up through the jackstraw.

    So… it really depends. IMHO, and you can’t really extrapolate from one place to another, although you could possibly look at fuels in different areas and figure out what might happen over time.

  2. IMHO, the highest priority area for dealing with fuel buildup is IN COMMUNITIES in the WUI.
    Sure the FS can do logging for fuel treatment in the boonies but if homeowners and communities don’t take effective measures to reduce home ignition all the fuel treatment in the world isn’t going to make much difference. Unless we convert our national forests to pavement with NO fuels.

    As I drove the Lolo Pass Road out to Old Maid Flat in Mt. Hood NF a couple of days ago I made some observations. Many homes have lots of trees and understory veg close to the house, near their large propane tank, etc. Did NOT look “Fire Wise” to me!

    Only thing I saw that may help is many homes have metal roofing; probably due to rain & snow but helpful with fire.
    With Afghanistan on our minds right now is it a good time to ask homeowners in the WUI; If you won’t take steps to fireproof your home how can you expect the larger community to help save your house during a wildland fire? HOMEOWNER MUST BE the first line of defense by taking responsibility for fire proofing.

    • Another analogy with a pandemic on our minds right now, if you choose to welcome a virus by not getting vaccinated, how can you expect our hospitals to make room for you?

  3. If livestock grazing is the key to preventing wildfires why is ranch country still suffering from near daily high even extreme grassland fire danger indices? Because Republicans only care when it’s their houses burn.

    Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns and deer cleared the grasses driving eastern Montana’s fire years. If grasses remained in the fall tribes burned the rest.

    So, one solution to forest management woes is to move the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where American Indian nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land and have the resources to apply cultural fire to their own holdings.

    In 2012 the fast-moving Ash Creek Fire burned bridges on US212 near Ashland and Lame Deer, Montana while another blaze nearby on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Coal Seam Fire spread to some 700 acres.

    In 2017 wildland fires on private ranch land in southeastern Montana dwarfed those on public ground in the western part of the state. The Sartin Draw Fire near Broadus and the Battle Complex near Birney burned at least 100,000 and 185,000 acres respectively, decades of invasive grasses and poor stewardship to blame.

    Last year the nearly 50,000 acre Huff Fire burned through the white supremacist town of Jordan, known as the home of the Montana Freemen. The Bobcat fire near Roundup in Musselshell County was over 41 square miles in size.

    Today, southeastern Montana is ablaze again because it’s overrun with dry invasive cheatgrass but as a Republican stronghold it avoids criticism from Republicans.

    Montana has the highest number in the US of residences in the wildland urban interface or WUI so that state’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation offers wildfire assessments and structure protection programs. But even government can’t always protect you from your own stupidity.

    Insurance companies have long been hesitant to raise premiums for idiots building in the WUI and along waterways swollen by human-caused climate disruptions but not any more. The former administration blamed California wildfires on the lack of logging with statements typically devoid of facts but the real culprits are arsonists, downed power lines and a warming climate.

    Private companies should simply deny coverage for those who refuse to clear properties of combustibles but at least one insuror has created conditions for building in the WUI by greenwashing moral hazard in risky developments.

  4. In the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park serves as a land management ‘control sample’ of what happens when we ‘let nature take its course’. Of course, the ‘nature’ affecting Yosemite does include many human effects and impacts, as it should, since millions of humans are currently part of this environment.

    This burned area in the Park, near Foresta, used to be majestic old growth, with massive pines that were tended by seasonal residents. Some parts of the area have burned three times since 1990. Indeed, this area is highest in California in fires during the last 100 years, according to tree rings. Take a look at how the area is ‘recovering’, including the inevitable human impacts. If you zoom out, you can see the scope of how much was (and continues to be) impacted, without mitigation. I’m not saying we should mitigate in National Parks, though.,-119.7470093,36m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

      • It is the usual brush species of manzanita, ceanothus and and other flammable plants. In some places, you can still see where the big logs burned on the ground, making that soil inhospitable for other plants to grow. Indeed, the soils are decomposed granite, with less organic matter to begin with. Now, even the brush is having trouble growing, with soils having a lowered water-holding capacity, critical during the hot Sierra summers. I also saw some knobcone pine snags, but no seedlings.


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