Forester Bob Zybach, who holds a PhD in environmental science, warned in a 1994 interview with Evergreen magazine that the new Bill Clinton policy of using “naturally functioning ecosystems” free of interference in order to protect old growth trees and spotted owls by putting strict limits on logging would lead to forest mismanagement and larger, deadlier fires.
“We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away,” Zybach told The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF). “Mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing. You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs.”
And putting more people in the midst of those mismanaged forests is a recipe for death and destruction. It’s no different than having government reward people for knowingly moving into flood zones by promising to rebuild their houses with government “money” after a flood. This is common sense to any rational person.
|As a result of these various factors and especially the combination of very limited removals of fuel (either by logging or by intentionally setting fires) and fire suppression, large crown fires have become the norm in the Northwest, destroying millions of acres of trees every year and threatening people’s lives and livelihoods. Meanwhile, the Forest Service and other forest-owning federal agencies, including as the Bureau of Land Management, have increased their expenditure on fire suppression in direct proportion to the area burned…
As this year’s fires demonstrate, another megafire like Big Blowup seems increasingly likely. With more people living in or near forests, such a fire could be far more deadly and economically devastating. It would also likely destroy vast swathes of species habitat, including that of the spotted owl.
For the sakes of people and the environment, the management of the forests in the Northwest must change. One objective might be to return the forest lands in the Northwest to a condition similar to that which pertained prior to European settlement. That could be done through a combination of ecologically sensitive logging (in most cases, this would mean thinning, not clear-cutting) and prescribed burns, while allowing more wildfires to burn naturally.
Following the implementation of Clinton’s policies, the amount of trees removed from federal lands declined drastically. Between 1960 and 1990, an average of 10.3 billion board feet of timber were removed each year. By 2002 that had dropped to less than 2 billion board feet, and the average from 2000 to 2013 was just 2.1 billion board feet per year, according to a 2015 analysis by Reason Foundation.
As Reason Foundation noted in 2015:
More than 45 percent of California land is owned by the feds. And what is not is burdened by the same or even stricter state environmental regulations. But wildfires aren’t constrained to California. While the Golden State is getting the most media attention, fires nationwide have consumed so many acres that you could set the state of Maryland inside the space and have room to spare.
In early October there were at least 71 wildfires burning federal lands, according to Phys.org. Experts warn that things will get worse, blaming the increased number of dead trees caused by drought and beetle infestations.
Brandon Collins of the UC Center for Fire Research and Outreach and co-author of a study published in the journal BioScience, warned in January that lack of proper management and removal of dead trees — which serve as fuel for the wildfires — could lead to catastrophe.
The study refers to prescribed burning and mechanical thinning as two possible methods to remove dead biomass as a fuel source for high-intensity fires. This is achieved by removing or burning the smaller trees in a forest, according toThe Daily Californian. But environmental regulations prevent it.
Collins said these methods aid in preventing connectivity, a forest condition that fuels rapid and massive wildfires, between the dead trees. Large, open spaces between individual trees are critical for inhibiting the rapid spread of wildfires in forests, Collins said.
Implementing low-density conditions in forests — that is, maintaining large, open spaces between individual trees — is an important aspect of fire management, Collins said. Low-density conditions prevent fires from spreading rapidly through forests, according to Collins.
Collins described the common suppression method of extinguishing wildfires as they occur as “chasing catastrophes.”
“We’re just kind of chasing fires,” Collins said. “The real concern is that we’re not getting ahead of anything. We haven’t managed the forest yet. … We need to see that these fires are driven by mismanagement.”
The leftist media and the political class recently vilified President Donald Trump over his tweet in which he said gross mismanagement of the forests and the funding to manage them contributed to the devastation, inaccurately claiming — as is their wont — that he said it caused the fires. Here’s his tweet:
California Governor Jerry Brown also bears some responsibility beyond surrendering management of the forests to the environmentalists. Last year he vetoed a bill that would have strengthened state policies designed to prevent fires caused by power lines.
But instead of taking ownership, Governor Moonbeam blamed “climate deniers for “contributing to the tragedies.” Of course, no one called out Moonbeam for his nonsensical buck-passing comment.
During a recent news conference, Brown said, “Managing all the forests and everywhere we can does not stop climate change. And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years. The chickens are coming home to roost. This is real here.”
University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass doesn’t share Brown’s take. From DCNF:
|“Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire,” University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told TheDCNF.
Mass also noted there hasn’t been much warming in the Pacific Northwest, adding that natural weather patterns in California prime the state for wildfires every year no matter what.
“Many of the media and some politicians has been pushing a false narrative: that the fires are mainly about global warming. They are not,” Mass said in an email. Mass also criticized politicians and the media for trying to make last year’s wildfire season about global warming.
Zybach also doesn’t buy that global warming is exacerbating fires. Through his research, Zybach analyzed thousands of official documents, reports and first-hand accounts of wildfire activity going back hundreds of years. His conclusion: wildfire season hasn’t changed much.
“To say there’s been another change, other than management, is just grasping at straws,” Zybach said.
It’s more than that. Blaming the fires on climate change is an effort by Brown, the rest of the leftist political class and the Greens to attempt to absolve themselves of blame for the disasters caused by their irrational and harmful environmental policies. And it keeps them from admitting that Trump was correct.