Latest: Forest Service report calls for changes in wildfire management

Increases in timber sales, prescribed burns and thinning projects are needed to save life and property.

  • Reducing dry and dead fuels in the Kaibab National Forest.

    David Hercher/USFS


Wildfire activity in the West has increased sharply since the 1980s, largely owing to climate change and fuel buildup from fire suppression. The Forest Service treats up to 3 million acres per year, but that’s a tiny fraction of the region’s 277 million fire-prone acres of public lands. A landscape-scale approach that coordinates state, local and federal efforts has long been needed, say experts (“Good policy and good intentions won’t stop big wildfires,” HCN, 10/7/11).


In August, a new Forest Service report noted that catastrophic wildfires that endanger life and property are still increasing, partly because forest treatments remain “uncoordinated and not at the right scale.” It calls for more state and local involvement, along with stepping up timber sales, prescribed burns and thinning projects. “This is a welcome response to wildfires, as opposed to the cut-it-all-down approach we’ve seen from (Interior Secretary) Ryan Zinke,” Randi Spivak, public-lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Greenwire.

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