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Wildfires in the American West
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Wildfires in the American West

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This EcoWest presentation examines the growing severity of wildfires in the American West. Learn more at EcoWest.org

This EcoWest presentation examines the growing severity of wildfires in the American West. Learn more at EcoWest.org

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  • Narrative: Three ingredients are needed for fire—heat, oxygen, and fuel. The job of wildland firefighters is to knock out one or more of the legs of this three-legged stool. By dumping water on the flames they’re reducing the heat. By smothering the fire with dirt they’re depleting the oxygen. The bulk of firefighting, however, revolves around the third element: fuel. When firefighters dig a fire line with a shovel or use a bulldozer to blaze an impromptu fire road through a forest, they’re attempting to remove the fuel. It’s the same idea with the intentional fires they set ahead of the main wildfire. Sometimes fuels treatments take place before there’s even a fire as a preventative measure, but as we’ll see, that’s not without controversy. Source: EcoWestURL: ecowest.org
  • Narrative: Another trio of factors determines a wildfire’s behavior. There’s the weather: the temperature, humidity, and wind at that moment, plus the climatic conditions over the preceding months and years. There’s the topography: the presence of drafty canyons, south-facing slopes exposed to the desiccating sun, or other features that would encourage burning. And once again there’s the fuel: the type of vegetation, its volume, its moisture content, and its continuity on the landscape. No one can do anything about the weather or the topography. Treating the fuel is the only way to make wildfires more manageable and decrease the risk to both human communities and forest habitat.Source: EcoWest URL: ecowest.org
  • Narrative: Wildfires are a natural part of many Western ecosystems, but the risk of wildfires varies greatly from place to place. In some regions, such as the California desert, there isn’t much fuel to burn, though some parts of the Southwest are being invaded by non-native grasses that are flammable. Aside from the West and Alaska, states in the South are most likely to burn. It’s important to remember that Western forests, woodlands, and grasslands vary greatly in their natural fire regimes. In some, wildfires used to be a frequent visitor, returning every few years, while others would burn every very few centuries in big, stand-replacing blazes.Source: USDA Forest Service/Fire Science Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research StationURL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=1375575d0756499aa7fd6759f89840b4Notes: “Wildland Fire Potential delineates areas based on fire intensity, weather, frequency, and size, which was then classified into a relative ranking of fire potential from very low to very high. Fire severity is based on surface fuels potential and crown fire potential. Surface fuel potential was based on calculated values of rate of spread and flame lengths, using the national Fuel Characterization Classification Systems. Crown fire potential was based on assigning relative classes of fire intensity to a current vegetation cover type map. Fire weather potential is based on the average number of days per year the relative energy release component was above the 95th percentile from 1980 to 2005, and the average number of days a year that experienced extreme fire weather based on thresholds of temperature, wind, and humidity from 1982 to 1997. Fire frequency and size is based on the number of 1/10 acres fires or greater per million acres and the number of 500-acre fires or greater per million acres from 1986 to 1996.”
  • Narrative: Fire is essential to the health of Western forests, but for more than a century, we have been fighting blazes to protect lives, homes, timber, and other resources. The policy was epitomized by Smokey Bear, who helped Americans adopt a negative attitude toward fires. But the result of fire suppression was a tremendous build-up of fuel in many Western forests. Areas that once burned with low-intensity ground fires every few years now went decades without seeing any flames. Source: SmokeyBear.comURL: http://www.smokeybear.com/
  • Narrative: The preceding maps show the current risk of wildfires in the West, but to understand the issue it’s critical to go back in time. Western forests have undergone some dramatic changes over the past century. Logging and other human activities have certainly led to the outright loss of some forested areas, but even places that have escaped chainsaws and bulldozers have changed in character. This sequence of images shows how one spot in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana changed from 1909 to 1948 to 1989. Fire suppression has caused a proliferation of smaller trees and other fuel that can allow wildfires to burn very intensely and reach into the canopy. In some areas, such as the ponderosa pine forests founds in drier parts of the interior West, frequent, low-intensity burns used to visit the woods, sparked by lightning or set by Native Americans, and clear out the underbrush. But in other forests, such as the lodgepole pines of the Rockies, infrequent, high-intensity burns were the norm.Source: U.S. Forest ServiceURL:http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr120.pdfNotes:“Forest development on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana in a ponderosa pine stand after harvest (1909) in which fire was excluded since 1895. Note the changes in vertical arrangement and horizontal continuity in forest stand structure. In general many of today’s ponderosa pine forests contain higher densities of fire-intolerant species and suppressed trees than historical forests.”
  • Narrative: Another way to look at the data is to examine fires that meet certain size thresholds. This map shows all fires that were at least 1,000 acres in size from 2001 to 2009Source: USGSWildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS)URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=d2562159471d4f81981877c105c064c4 http://wfdss.usgs.gov/wfdss/WFDSS_Data_Downloads.shtmlNotes: The 2000-2009 national fire perimeter data layer was developed in support of WFDSS for the 2010 fire season. The objective of the layer is to display historic national fire perimeter polygons in WFDSS. This layer will be expanded and grown upon in future years. The 2009 layer was created using the WFDSS 2001-2008 national fire history perimeter data, the interagency California 2009 data, Alaska 2009 data, and the remaining 47 States 2009 fire perimeter data from GeoMAC. The layer contains only those fires 100 acres and larger and from the time period of 2000-2009 from the data sources listed below. Last updated 08-23-2010.
  • Narrative: These are the fires greater than 10,000 acres.Source: USGSWildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS)URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=d2562159471d4f81981877c105c064c4 http://wfdss.usgs.gov/wfdss/WFDSS_Data_Downloads.shtmlNotes: The 2000-2009 national fire perimeter data layer was developed in support of WFDSS for the 2010 fire season. The objective of the layer is to display historic national fire perimeter polygons in WFDSS. This layer will be expanded and grown upon in future years. The 2009 layer was created using the WFDSS 2001-2008 national fire history perimeter data, the interagency California 2009 data, Alaska 2009 data, and the remaining 47 States 2009 fire perimeter data from GeoMAC. The layer contains only those fires 100 acres and larger and from the time period of 2000-2009 from the data sources listed below. Last updated 08-23-2010.
  • Narrative: And here are the blazes in excess of 100,000 acres.Source: USGSWildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS)URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=d2562159471d4f81981877c105c064c4 http://wfdss.usgs.gov/wfdss/WFDSS_Data_Downloads.shtmlNotes: The 2000-2009 national fire perimeter data layer was developed in support of WFDSS for the 2010 fire season. The objective of the layer is to display historic national fire perimeter polygons in WFDSS. This layer will be expanded and grown upon in future years. The 2009 layer was created using the WFDSS 2001-2008 national fire history perimeter data, the interagency California 2009 data, Alaska 2009 data, and the remaining 47 States 2009 fire perimeter data from GeoMAC. The layer contains only those fires 100 acres and larger and from the time period of 2000-2009 from the data sources listed below. Last updated 08-23-2010.
  • Narrative: This map shows fires greater than 250,000 acres in size. Unlike tornadoes and hurricanes, wildfires don’t have a standard scale that is used to measure their destructive potential. But some scientists and land managers are starting to talk about “mega-fires” that are especially large and destructive. There is no agreed-upon definition of a mega-fire, but these blazes would seem to qualify. Source: USGSWildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS)URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=d2562159471d4f81981877c105c064c4 http://wfdss.usgs.gov/wfdss/WFDSS_Data_Downloads.shtmlNotes: The 2000-2009 national fire perimeter data layer was developed in support of WFDSS for the 2010 fire season. The objective of the layer is to display historic national fire perimeter polygons in WFDSS. This layer will be expanded and grown upon in future years. The 2009 layer was created using the WFDSS 2001-2008 national fire history perimeter data, the interagency California 2009 data, Alaska 2009 data, and the remaining 47 States 2009 fire perimeter data from GeoMAC. The layer contains only those fires 100 acres and larger and from the time period of 2000-2009 from the data sources listed below. Last updated 08-23-2010.
  • Narrative: The number of wildfires and acreage burned varies a lot from year to year. Although the government has reportedthese statistics for decades, the tracking methodology has varied over time, especially when it comes to small fires.As you can see, there was a major surge reported in the late 1970s and then a sharp dropoff in the early 1980s. Since then, there has been more consistent reporting.Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: Here’s a close-up of the past quarter century. There number bounces around from year to year, but is more or less steady. In an average year, there are nearly 80,000 wildfires in the nation, but the vast majority of these are small blazes that are confined to a few acres or less. As a rule of thumb, wildland firefighters contain more than 95 percent of blazes in the so-called initial attack, but the relatively small number of fires that do escape are responsible for more than 95 percent of the acreage burned.Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes: 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: If we turn to acreage burned, we can see that there’s a lot of variability from year to year—from around 1 million to 10 million acres annually—but there has been an upward trend in recent years. The orange line represents a 10-year moving average. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: Another way of looking at this data is to calculate the average size of fires. Because we’re dividing the total acreage burned by the total number of fires, we run into the same problem with the change in reporting in the 1980s, but if you look at the past two decades or so, you can see that the mean size of wildfires has been increasing. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL: http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: Here’s a close-up of the past two decades. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.htmlNotes:2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina; figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data; stats after 1983 were compiled by states and agencies.
  • Narrative: This slide only looks at really big fires—those exceeding 100,000 acres. Since 2000, it has been common for there to be a 10 or more such fires each year. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_lgFires.htmlNotes:See also http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_histSigFires.html
  • Narrative: Let’s take a closer look at big fires in the Southwest. In this slide, we’ve only included fires larger than 20,000 acres. Each rectangle represents a different fire, and the size of the rectangle shows how much acreage was burned. When you stack up all these large fires, you can see that there weren’t many in those two states before the mid 1990s, but in the past decade or so, they have been a regular occurrence. Rodeo-Chediski set a pretty high bar at nearly 470,000 acres, but it took less than a decade for that to be exceeded by the 2011 Wallow Fire, which burned 538,000 acres in both Arizona and New Mexico. Much of the region has experienced drought conditions over the past decade—2002 and 2011 were especially bad years—but sometimes wet weather has kept a lid on fires. For example, there were no fires bigger than 20,000 acres in Arizona or New Mexico in either 2007 or 2010.Source:Southwest Coordination CenterURL:http://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc/predictive/intelligence/ytd_historical/historical/historical.htm Notes:Each rectangle represents a fire larger than 20,000 acres.
  • Narrative: This graphic shows how many acres have burned in various regions since 1995. Because weather patterns often cause some parts of the West to be very dry while others are very wet, down years for wildfire in one region may be up years in other regions. In 2004, for example, Alaska had more than 6 million acres burn, but only about 1 million acres burned in the West. Nationally, the last few years haven’t been as busy, but fire experts say that doesn’t mean the danger has passed. When drier weather returns, fire activity is almost certain to increase yet again. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: Here’s what the 16-year average looks like. Alaska accounts for about one-quarter of the total and the Southern region makes up nearly 20 percent. In the West, the Eastern Great Basin has seen the most acreage burned. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: Another way to break down the data is to analyze it state by state. Here are the 11 Western states. One interesting trend is the large number of acres burned in Nevada from 2005 through 2007. This may be attributable to the spread of invasive grasses in the Great Basin. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: Many people associate wildfires with the Forest Service, and fighting fires was certainly one of the main reasons for creating the agency, but there are plenty of other land managers that play a major role in fire suppression and treating fuels. This graphic shows that state lands, private property, and areas managed by the BLM usually account for the majority of acreage burned nationally. This partly reflects the lack of Forest Service lands in the Southeast and some other parts of the country. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: What causes wildfires? Basically it boils down to two ignition sources: humans and lightning. Over the past decade, more than 80 percent of all wildfires have been caused by people. But if you look at the acreage burned, humans are usually responsible for less than half. Why the difference? Lightning-sparked blazes in remote parts of the West may consume large acreage before they are contained, and in some cases these blazes are allowed to burn to reduce fuels. Many human-caused blazes start in populated areas and are quickly controlled. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fire_info/lightning_human_fires.html
  • Narrative: Here’s the regional breakdown. In the East, California, and the Southeastern U.S., humans are responsible for starting the vast majority of fires, whereas in the Great Basin, it’s 40 percent or fewer. This regional breakdown suggests that fire prevention programs will be more effective in some areas than others. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fire_info/lightning_human_fires.html
  • Now let’s talk about fire suppression—the difficult, costly business of fighting wildfires.
  • Narrative: Wildfires are one of the reasons why the federal government created the Forest Service at the start of the 20th century. Over the past few decades, fire-related costs have consumed an increasing share of the agency’s budget.Source:US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/budget-2008/fy2008-forest-service-budget-overview.pdf
  • Narrative: Here’s how the agency spent its money over the past 10 years. The red bar is for wildland fire management, but sometimes bad fire years have forced the agency to rely on supplemental and emergency appropriations from Congress. Aside from fires, the next biggest category of spending is for running the national forest system, shown in green.Source:US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/
  • Narrative: How does the Forest Service spend money on wildfires? Suppression—the hot, dirty, demanding work of fighting fires—accounts for nearly half. Almost a third is devoted to preparedness measures—essentially having enough manpower and material on hand to catch fires before they get out of hand and prevent wildfires from starting in the first place. About 16 percent goes toward treating millions of acres of hazardous fuels with thinning projects and prescribed burns. The rest is divided among assistance to local fire departments, research, and restoration. Source:US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/
  • Narrative: A number of other federal agencies, primarily in the Interior Department, also spend money on wildfires. For example, the Fish and Wildlife Service must fight fires on its refuges and the Bureau of Land Management oversees vast areas that have the capacity to burn. The best estimate of these other agencies’ costs that we’ve found is from a GAO study that only includes data through 2007.Source: GAO analysis of Congressional Research Service dataURL:http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09444t.pdf Notes:GAO adjusted the appropriations dollars for inflation, using the chain-weighted gross domestic product price index with fiscal year 2007 as the base year.
  • Narrative: One way of gauging wildfire activity is to look at how many days the federal government was operating under various preparedness levels. The National Interagency Fire Center uses five categories, similar to the now-abandoned Homeland Security threat levels. Preparedness level 5 is reserved for the most active times, while under level 4 the competition for firefighting resources is a bit less intense, and so on down to level 1, when not much is happening as far as fires go. This graphic shows how many days the government was under levels 4 and 5. Aside from 2004 and the past two years, it’s been a challenging time for wildland firefighters. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: The federal government closely monitors how it deploys its firefighting resources each year, and those figures also serve as a barometer of wildfire activity. Here you can see the trends back to 1990. Type 1 helicopters are larger than type 2 helicopters, and type 1 mobilizations refers to the number of times that top-level incident command teams are deployed (smaller, less complex fires are managed by type 2 teams). Finally, there are the air tankers that drop flame retardant. These categories tend to move together, but you’ll notice that the number of air tankers mobilized dropped around 2001—that’s because safety concerns over the aging fleet forced many planes to be grounded, even during some very active fire seasons. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries; type 1 management team mobilizations do not include non-fire-related incidents
  • Narrative: Wildland firefighting remains a dangerous business, with 1,018 people killed in the line of duty since the Great Fire of 1910 in the Northern Rockies. The government reports no deaths for the next 15 years, which may be due to a lack of data. In recent years, more firefighters have been dying, but that doesn’t mean the profession is becoming more dangerous; there are far more people fighting wildland fires these days, so the death rate is probably lower. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/safety/safety_HistFatality_report.html
  • Narrative: All but two of the most expensive wildfires in U.S. history have taken place in California, where millions of homes, many of them expensive, lie within the so-called wildland-urban interface. Several fires in populated areas have caused insured losses in excess of $1 billion.Source:Insurance Information InstituteURL:http://www.iii.org/facts_statistics/wildfires.html
  • Narrative: This map shows the condition of natural fire systems, by terrestrial ecoregion. Green indicates where the natural fire regime is more or less intact, pink shows degraded areas, and orange depicts very degraded areas. Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010.URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=bc0f2102d5044d9aaeb3569802da3b3eNotes: Spatial data on the status and trends of fire regimes were developed under the Global Fire Partnership, a collaboration of nongovernment and academic institutions and summarized in Shlisky et al. (2007). The fire regime and its status and trends were established through a formal expert workshop process. Workshops were held around the world from 2004 to 2006.
  • Narrative: In the United States, the coastal mountains of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, and parts of the central and northern Rockies have intact fire systems. But many parts of the intermountain West, as well as the Southeast and Great Lakes region, have degraded conditions.Source: Hoekstra et al. The Atlas Of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010.URL: http://www.nature.org/ourscience/sciencefeatures/conservation-atlas.xml http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=bc0f2102d5044d9aaeb3569802da3b3eNotes: Spatial data on the status and trends of fire regimes were developed under the Global Fire Partnership, a collaboration of nongovernment and academic institutions and summarized in Shlisky et al. (2007). The fire regime and its status and trends were established through a formal expert workshop process. Workshops were held around the world from 2004 to 2006.
  • Narrative: Because many forests and woodlands have too much fuel due to fire suppression, the government has been trying to step up its thinning on federal lands. This graphic distinguishes between a couple of different types of fuels treatments. The first distinction is between activity taking place within and beyond the wildland-urban interface. Known by its acronym, the WUI is where property and residents are at risk of wildfires, although the definition is somewhat controversial. The fuels treatment primarily consists of thinning with chainsaws (“mechanical”) and prescribed burns (“fire”). The total acreage has been climbing in recent years, but it’s important to remember that these treatments are just a drop in the bucket. By some estimates there are 190 million acres of federal lands at elevated risk for wildfires. Source:US Departments of Interior and AgricultureURL:http://www.forestsandrangelands.gov/resources/reports/documents/healthyforests/2009/FY2009HFAccomplishments.pdf
  • Narrative: Prescribed fires are an important tool for reducing excess fuels. On a per acre basis, they are less expensive than mechanical thinning projects and they can do tremendous good for forest ecosystems by reintroducing fire to where it is natural. But conditions have to be just right to set a prescribed fire so that it doesn’t turn into a disastrous wildfire. That’s happened occasionally in the West, such as the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos, NM, and many in the public remain skeptical or outright opposed to fires because of the risks and smoke. This graphic shows that the number of acres burned in prescribed fires has generally been increasing over the past dozen years. Most of the burns happen on Forest Service land. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: Prescribed fires are most common in the Southwest, Northwest, and Rocky Mountains. They are used less often in the Great Basin and California. Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Narrative: The federal government used to report on instances of “wildland-fire use,” essentially letting wildfires burn rather than suppressing them. This strategy, meant to consume excess fuel and restore the natural fire regime, is still practiced today, but the government stopped reporting that statistic in 2008. This graphic shows the number of wildland-fire use acres in the preceding decade. Most of the activity took place on Forest Service lands, but the National Park Service also allowed a fair amount of acreage to burn.Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_fireUse.html
  • Narrative: Debates about forest management in the West used to focus on commercial logging, but the industry is a shadow of its former self. This graphic shows how much timber was sold and harvested on national forests, starting at the inception of the Forest Service in 1905. There was a big run-up in the post-war era, but then a dramatic decline starting in the late 1980s as restrictions related to the spotted owl and other environmental laws took effect and foreign competition hurt the industry. As a result, many timber mills were closed around the West so it can now be a struggle to find facilities to handle trees cut as part of fuels reduction projects, especially because most of the trees being removed are small-diameter and not what the mills were built to handle. Source:US Forest ServiceURL:http://www.fs.fed.us/forestmanagement/reports/sold-harvest/documents/1905-2008_Natl_Sold_Harvest_Summary.pdf
  • Narrative: To encourage the private sector to participate in thinning projects, the government has been signing long-term stewardship contracts that guarantee businesses they will be able to gain access to excess fuel in national forests for many years to come. Previously, doubts about the supply and environmental regulations created too much uncertainty and made it hard for companies to invest in equipment. This graphic shows that the number of contracts has been on the rise, with most issued by the Forest Service.Source:National Interagency Fire CenterURL:http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.htmlNotes:See historical fire summaries
  • Now let’s talk about the wildland-urban interface, where property is most at risk.
  • Narrative: An increasing number of homes in the West lie within the so-called wildland-urban interface (WUI), where wildfires pose a direct threat to homes and businesses. This map shows the location of the WUI. Every Western state has some of these areas, but they are especially common in California, Oregon, and Washington.Source: USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team (FHTET)URL: http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=9a3dadc489264df89540ef6379724deaNotes: This map service provides a raster dataset representing US wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas in high severity forested types in 2000. The data essentially represents where there is a high degree of urban and suburban sprawl coming into contact with forests. The map shows presence/absence as 1/0.
  • Narrative: This map shows, county by county, how many homes are in the WUI. Pacific Coast states, where the population is larger, tend to have the most homes in the WUI, but there are also concentrations in Arizona, Colorado, and the Northern Rockies. Source: Headwaters EconomicsURL: www.headwaterseconomics.org http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=3ba0ea2e3ebb4a25a3112b577e4afb09Notes: This dataset contains county-level metrics describing home development in fire-prone lands in the western U.S. Counties are ranked by the amount of development in the wildland interface, which is defined here as private forested lands in proximity to fire-prone public lands. Counties are also ranked by potential risk of future home construction in currently undeveloped wildland interface. Data for this analysis were derived from the U.S. Census 2000 block-level summary files. Forested areas were derived from forest classes contained in the National Land Cover Dataset (Vogelmann 2001). Forested areas with residential development were defined as census blocks with mean lot sizes less than 40 acres. Interface with public lands was defined as the census blocks that fell within 500 meters of the boundary of the public land. Public lands were derived from the CBI Protected Areas Database and appended with other data sources to overcome boundary errors in that version of the Protected Areas Database. For more information about the methods used to create this dataset and other socio-economic analyses conducted by Headwaters Economics, please visit the website (www.headwaterseconomics.org).
  • Narrative: Some research has called the nation’s thinning strategy into question. In one paper, scientists found that less than 25 percent of all thinning from 2004 to 2008 was taking place in the WUI in the West. What’s more, projects that were more than 10 kilometers from the WUI were being justified as protecting communities. This graphic shows the official justification for thinning broken down by how far a project was from the WUI. Thinning projects that are farther in the backcountry tend to attract more opposition from environmentalists, but some foresters believe that fuels treatment in these areas is essential for preventing catastrophic fires and restoring forest health. Source: Tania Schoennagel, Cara R. Nelson, David M. Theobald, Gunnar C. Carnwath, and Teresa B. Chapman. “Thinning and the wildland-urban interfaceSource:Implementation of National Fire Plan treatments near the wildland–urban interface in the western United States.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 June 30; 106(26): 10706–10711.URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705595/
  • Narrative: Climate change is expected to increase fire activity in the West. This map shows how various ecoregions are expected to fare if global average temperatures increase by 1°C. In many areas, the median annual area burned is projected to increase more than 100 percent. Climate change is expected to make the Southwest drier, lead to more severe droughts, and cause a thinning of the mountain snowpack that delays the onset of fire season and supplies the bulk of the water in Western rivers and reservoirs.Source: Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia. National Research Council. 2011.URL: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12877Notes: Percent increase (relative to 1950-2003) in median annual area burned for ecoprovinces of the West with a 1°C increase in global average temperature. Changes in temperature and precipitation were aggregated to the ecoprovince level using the suite of models in the CMIP3 archive. Climate-fire models were derived from National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) climate division records and observed area burned data following methods discussed in Littell et al. (2009).
  • Narrative: Scientists have already found that the warming experienced over the past few decades in the West has led to an increase in wildfire activity. One paper concluded that “large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly” starting in the mid-1980s, with most of the change due to a warming climate rather than fire suppression. Higher temperatures led to a thinner snowpack that melted earlier in spring, leading to more-flammable conditions in summer. The scientists looked at more than 1,100 large blazes that broke out from 1970 onward. Compared to the 1970–1986 period, wildfires in the 1987–2003 time frame were four times as frequent and burned more than six times the acreage. The length of the wildfire season increased an average of 78 days.Source: Westerling et al. “Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity.” Science 18 August 2006: 313 (5789), 940-943. Published online,July 6, 2006.URL: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/313/5789/940.full.pdf
  • Narrative: Around the globe, forests have been experiencing die-offs that scientists attribute to drought and heat waves, both of which are expected to be on the rise in many parts of the West due to climate change. This map shows the location of dozens of tree mortality episodes that scientists have documented. The different colors represent varying types of drought and temperature anomalies. Source:Dr. Joerg Steinkamp, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Wendy Peterman, Conservation Biology Institute.URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=b2947eeae2e5488a86eacf0fcd4df7a4Notes: This dataset shows the locations of forest dieback documented in the 2010 paper: Allen , C. D., Macalady, A. K.,  Chenchouni, H., Bachelet, D., McDowell, N, Vennetier, M , Kitzberger, T, Rigling, A, Breshears, D. D., Hogg, E.H.,  Gonzalez, P., Fensham, R., Zhang, Z. , Castro, J, Demidova, N., Lim, J. H., Allard, G., Running, S. W., Semerci, A., Cobb, N. 2010. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259(4): 660-684
  • Narrative: Here’s a closeup of the West. In Southwest Colorado, multi-year droughts with high spring and summer temperatures are thought to have caused the cases of tree mortality. Along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona and New Mexico, multi-year droughts with high temperatures were also linked to tree mortality.Source:Dr. Joerg Steinkamp, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Wendy Peterman, Conservation Biology Institute.URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=b2947eeae2e5488a86eacf0fcd4df7a4Notes: This dataset shows the locations of forest dieback documented in the 2010 paper: Allen , C. D., Macalady, A. K.,  Chenchouni, H., Bachelet, D., McDowell, N, Vennetier, M , Kitzberger, T, Rigling, A, Breshears, D. D., Hogg, E.H.,  Gonzalez, P., Fensham, R., Zhang, Z. , Castro, J, Demidova, N., Lim, J. H., Allard, G., Running, S. W., Semerci, A., Cobb, N. 2010. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259(4): 660-684
  • Narrative: Insects and other biotic agents often play a major role in forest die-offs. High temperatures or drought conditions can weaken trees and make them more susceptible to infestation by bugs, some of which are native, some of which are exotic. In this map, hollow dots represent die-offs with no connection to biotic agents, and gray dots indicate where no biotic agents were linked to tree mortality. But at least in North America, many of the tree mortality events were connected to bark beetles and other biotic agents.Source:Dr. Joerg Steinkamp, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Wendy Peterman, Conservation Biology Institute.URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=b2947eeae2e5488a86eacf0fcd4df7a4Notes: This dataset shows the locations of forest dieback documented in the 2010 paper: Allen et al. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259(4): 660-684. 2010.
  • Narrative: In this closeup of the West, you can see that bark beetles were connected to forest die-offs along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, while wood borers were an influence in Southwest Colorado. In California, other insects were linked to the climate-related mortality events.Source:Dr. Joerg Steinkamp, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Wendy Peterman, Conservation Biology Institute.URL: http://app.databasin.org/app/pages/datasetPage.jsp?id=b2947eeae2e5488a86eacf0fcd4df7a4Notes: This dataset shows the locations of forest dieback documented in the 2010 paper: Allen et al. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259(4): 660-684. 2010.
  • Narrative: This graphic shows where three of the most common types of bark beetles have been active in the West. The spruce beetle has been fairly widely distributed, but the mountain pine beetle has primarily affected the Central and Northern Rockies, from Colorado up through British Columbia, and the pinyon ips beetle has killed millions of acres at lower latitudes. Source: Raffa, et al. Cross-scale Drivers of Natural Disturbances Prone to Anthropogenic Amplification: The Dynamics of Bark Beetle Eruptions. BioScience58: 501-517. 2008.URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/media/10.1641/B580607
  • Narrative: In this map, you can see the combined influence of fire (shown in red) and insects (orange) in Arizona and New Mexico. The relationship between insects and fires is somewhat complicated. A bug-killed forest may be initially more flammable than a healthy forest, but over time dead pine needles drop off the trees and provide less potential fuel for a canopy fire. Source: Williams, et al. “Forest responses to increasing aridity and warmth in the southwestern United States” PNAS. December 14, 2010. Vol. 107, no. 50. pages 21289–21294.URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/29/0914211107.abstractNotes: Map of SW forest and woodland mortality due to bark beetles from 1997 to 2008 (orange) and wildfire (red) from 1984 to 2006. Dark green areas are conifer and mixed forest. Light green areas are piñon/juniper woodland. Gray areas are nonforest or hardwood/shrub woodland landscapes. White lines are state boundaries. Bark-beetle-induced mortality covered 18,177 km2, and wildfire-induced mortality covered 6,420 km2.
  • Narrative: In 2010, more than 9 million acres of U.S. forests were suffering from tree mortality,74% of which was caused by the mountain pine beetle in the West. The other top mortality agents were the fir engraver (8%), subalpine fir mortality (5%), spruce beetle (4%), and Western pine beetle (3%). Source: US Forest Service Forest Health Technology Enterprise TeamURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/adsm.shtml http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/images/IDSurvey_2010_md.jpg
  • Narrative: This map and the ones that follow look ahead to the next 15 years. About 58 million acres around the nation are at risk of insects and disease, with the mountain pine beetle once again the likely top agent. Source: US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/nidrm_maps.shtml
  • Narrative: This map shows that the risk of insect and disease outbreaks can be grouped into some clusters. The areas of interest in the West are: Idaho and Montana: Mountain pine beetle and root disease Northern Arizona: Western pine beetle, pine engraver beetle (ips), round-headed pine beetle Northern Colorado: Mountain pine beetle Nevada: Pine engraver beetle (ips) Sierra Nevada: Mountain pine beetle, fir engraver beetle, root disease Northern California Coast: Sudden oak death Oregon: Pine engraver beetle (ips), fir engraver beetle, root disease Southern Washington: Mountain pine beetle and pine engraver beetle (ips)Source: US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/nidrm_maps.shtml
  • Narrative: In this map, the watersheds that are most at risk from insects and disease are highlighted. Many critical watersheds throughout the West are at risk. Watersheds with less than 10 percent forested land were excluded from the analysis. Source: US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/nidrm_maps.shtml
  • Narrative: About half of the areas at risk from insects and disease are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and 10 percent are managed by other federal agencies. State, county, and private lands account for the balance. Source: US Forest ServiceURL: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/nidrm_maps.shtml

Wildfires in the American West Wildfires in the American West Presentation Transcript

  • Wildfires in the West 1/20/13
  • EcoWest missionInform and advance conservation in the AmericanWest by analyzing, visualizing, and sharing dataon environmental trends. 1/20/13
  • EcoWest decks This is one of six presentations that illustrate key environmental metrics. Libraries for each topic contain additional slides. Issue Sample metrics Water Per capita water consumption, price of water, trends in transfers Biodiversity Number of endangered species and candidates, biological diversity of ecoregions Wildfires Size and number of wildfires, suppression costs Land Area protected by land trusts, location of proposed wilderness areas Climate Temperature and precipitation projections Politics Conservation funding, public opinion Download presentations and libraries at ecowest.org 1/20/13
  • Wildfires are . . . • Natural in most Western forests and critical to maintaining ecological health • Behaving differently today in some Western ecosystems due to the legacy effects of fire suppression and other human activities • Growing larger, burning longer, and becoming more intense in many parts of the West; climate change will exacerbate these trends • Posing increasing risk to homeowners in the wildland-urban interface; threatening some species in forests and woodlands; and leading to increased flooding and soil erosion • Costing us more to suppress and consuming much of the Forest Service’s budget • Prompting thinning projects to reduce fuels in overgrown forests, but not without controversy • Compounded by other stresses on Western forests, such as a changing climate and insect outbreaks 1/20/13
  • Table of contents 1. Wildfires 101 2. Recent fire history 3. Suppression 4. Fuels 5. Wildland-urban interface 6. Climate change and wildfires 7. Insects and forest health 1/20/13
  • WILDFIRES 101 1/20/13
  • The fire triangle: three ingredients needed Heat 1/20/13
  • What explains fire behavior? Fuels Weather Topography 1/20/13
  • Wildland fire potential Source: USDA Forest Service/Fire Science Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research Station 1/20/13
  • Smokey Bear Source: SmokeyBear.com 1/20/13
  • Many Western forests filled with more fuel 1909 1948 1989 Source: US Forest Service 1/20/13
  • RECENT FIRE HISTORY 1/20/13
  • Wildfires in the West 2001-2009 1,000+ acresSource: U.S. Geological Survey 1/20/2013 1/20/13 13
  • Wildfires in the West: 2001-2009 10,000+ acresSource: U.S. Geological Survey 1/20/2013 1/20/13 14
  • Wildfires in the West: 2001-2009 100,000+ acresSource: U.S. Geological Survey 1/20/2013 1/20/13 15
  • Wildfires in the West: 2001-2009 250,000+ acresSource: U.S. Geological Survey 1/20/2013 1/20/13 16
  • Number of U.S. wildfires: 1961-2011300,000250,000200,000 Change in reporting 150,000100,000 50,000 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Number of U.S. wildfires: 1990-2011120,000100,00080,00060,00040,00020,000 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Acres burned by U.S. wildfires: 1961-2011 12 10 8Millionsof acres 6 4 10-year moving average 2 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Average size of U.S. wildfires: 1961-2011 140 120 100 80Acres 60 10-year 40 moving average 20 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Average size of U.S. wildfires: 1990-2011 140 120 100 80Acres 5-year moving 60 average 40 20 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Number of fires larger than 100,000 acres16141210 8 6 4 2 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Fires larger than 20,000 acres in AZ and NM 1800000 1600000 1400000 1200000 1000000Acres 800000 600000 Note: Each rectangle represents a fire larger than 20,000 acres Wallow 400000 Rodeo-Chediski 200000 0 1973 1987 1993 2003 1970 1981 1984 1990 1995 2000 2005 2011 1975 1982 1986 1989 2008 1978 1983 1997 1998 2007 1971 1977 1980 1985 1996 1999 1974 1991 2001 2006 2009 2010 1976 1979 1994 2004 1988 1992 2002 1972 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Acres burned by region 10 9 8 7Millions 6of acres Eastern Area Northern California 5 Rocky Mountains Southern California 4 Northern Rockies Northwest 3 Southwest 2 Western Great Basin Eastern Great Basin 1 Southern Area Alaska 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Acres burned by region1995-2010100% Eastern Area Northern California Rocky Mountains 90% Southern California Northern Rockies 80% Northwest 70% Southwest 60% Western Great Basin 50% Eastern Great Basin 40% Southern Area 30% 20% Alaska 10% 0% Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Western wildfires: acres burned by state 6 5 WY 4 WA UTMillionsof acres OR 3 NV NM MT CO 2 CA AZ 1 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Breakdown of acres burned by land manager100% Bureau of Indian Affairs90% National Park Service Fish and Wildlife80% Service Forest Service70% Bureau of Land60% Management State/Other50%40%30%20% 10% 0% 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Cause of U.S. wildfires100% 90% % fires 80% human- caused 70% 60% 50% 40% % burned acreage human- 30% caused 20% 10% 0% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Percent of fires human-caused2001-2010100%90%80% 70%60%50%40%30%20% 10% 0% Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • FIRE SUPPRESSION 1/20/13
  • Forest Service budget increasingly devoted to fire100%90%80%70%60%50% Non-Fire Fire40%30%20% 10% 0% 1991 2000 2008 Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Fires consume biggest share of Forest Service budget $10 Supplemental/Emergency/Reserve Other Appropriations $9 Land Acquisition: LWCF State and Private Forestry $8 Forest and Rangeland Research Capital Improvement and $7 Maintenance Mandatory Appropriations National Forest System $6 Wildland Fire ManagementBillions (2012 dollars) $5 $4 $3 $2 $1 $0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • How the Forest Service spends its wildfire budget Forest Service FY 2011 Wildfire Budget Total = $2.1 billion State and volunteer fire assistance 3% Hazardous fuels 16% Preparedness Forest health 31% management 2% R&D, Joint Fire Science Program 1% Rehabilitation and restoration 1% Suppression 46% Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Forest Service/Interior wildfire appropriations $4,000 $3,500 $3,000 $2,500Millions $2,000 $1,500 $1,000 $500 $0 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Source: Government Accountability Office 1/20/13
  • Days at Preparedness Levels 4 and 5 100 90 Level 5 80 Level 4 70 60Days 50 40 30 20 10 0 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 20082009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Trends in mobilization of firefighting resources450400350300250200 Air tanker mobilizations150 Tanker fleet Type 1 helicopter mobilizations problems100 Type 2 helicopter mobilizations 50 Type 1 mobilizations 0 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • U.S. wildland firefighters killed since 1910908070 Great Fire of 191060504030 Lack of20 data100 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Most expensive wildfires in U.S. historyOakland and Berkeley Hills Fire, CA 1970 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, AZ 2002 Cerro Grande Fire, NM 2000 Santa Barbara Fire, CA 1990 Orange County Fire, CA 1993 Los Angeles County Fire, CA 1993 Old Fire, CA 2003 Cedar Fire, CA 2003 Witch Fire, CA 2007 Oakland Fire, CA 1991 $0 $1 $2 $3 Insured losses (in billions of 2008 dollars) Source: Insurance Information Institute 1/20/13
  • FUELS 1/20/13
  • Condition of natural fire systems Source: The Nature Conservancy 1/20/13
  • Condition of natural fire systems Source: The Nature Conservancy 1/20/13
  • Fuels treatment on federal lands 6 Inside and outside the wildland-urban interface (WUI) 5 4Millions Non-WUI otherof acres Non-WUI mechanical 3 Non-WUI fire WUI other WUI mechanical WUI fire 2 1 0 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Source: Departments of Agriculture and Interior 1/20/13
  • Acres burned in prescribed fires 4 3Millions of 2 acres Bureau of Land Management 1 National Park Service Bureau of Indian Affairs US Fish and Wildlife Service State/Other US Forest Service 0 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Acres burned in prescribed fires by region 300,000 250,000 200,000Acres 150,000 Southwest Northwest Rocky Mountains 100,000 Northern Rockies Northern California 50,000 Eastern Great Basin Southern California Western Great Basin 0 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Wildland-fire use: letting blazes burn naturally 500,000 400,000 300,000 Bureau of IndianAcres Affairs State/Other 200,000 National Park Service Bureau of Land 100,000 Management US Fish and Wildlife Service US Forest Service 0 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • Timber produced by national forests 16 Northern spotted owl Sold ESA listing 14 Harvested 12 10Billions ofboard- 8 feet 6 4 2 0 Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Stewardship contracts in acres250200150100 Forest Service 50 Bureau of Land Management 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Source: National Interagency Fire Center 1/20/13
  • WILDLAND-URBANINTERFACE 1/20/13
  • Wildland-urban interface (WUI) Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Number of homes in wildland-urban interface (WUI) Source: Headwaters Economics 1/20/13
  • Purpose of thinning and distance from the WUI100% Controlling epidemic insects or disease90% Protecting/enhancing T&E species habitat80% Reducing invasive species70% Rangeland health60% Forest health50% Ecosystem restoration40% Municipal watershed or30% water supply protection20% WUI/defensible space 10% 0% 0–2.5 km 2.5–5 km 5–10 km More than 10 km All areas Distance from WUI Source: Schoennagel et al. (2009) 1/20/13
  • CLIMATE AND WILDFIRES 1/20/13
  • Change in burned area projected from 1°C warming Source: National Research Council 1/20/13
  • Wildfires are arriving earlier and lasting longer Source: Westerling et al. (2006) 1/20/13
  • FOREST HEALTH 1/20/13
  • Climate anomalies connected to tree mortality Source: Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Conservation Biology Institute 1/20/13
  • Climate anomalies connected to tree mortality Source: Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Conservation Biology Institute 1/20/13
  • Biotic agents connected to climate-related mortality Source: Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Conservation Biology Institute 1/20/13
  • Biotic agents connected to climate-related mortality Source: Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Conservation Biology Institute 1/20/13
  • Insects are causing massive tree die-offs in the West Source: Raffa et al. (2008) 1/20/13
  • Effect of wildfires and insects on Southwest forests Source: Williams et al. (2010) 1/20/13
  • Tree mortality is especially prevalent in the West Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Composite insect and disease risk Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Major risk agents can be grouped into clusters Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Watersheds most at risk from insects and disease Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Half of high-risk areas are managed by Forest Service Source: U.S. Forest Service 1/20/13
  • Conclusion • Wildfires are a natural part of Western forests and essential to maintaining ecosystem health, but decades of fire suppression have caused an unnatural build-up of fuels in some areas. • Wildfire activity varies considerably from year to year, largely due to weather conditions, but blazes are generally getting bigger, burning longer, doing more damage, and costing more to suppress. • An increasing number of acres are being treated with mechanical thinning and prescribed burns, but the backlog is tremendous and there is some disagreement about where to focus the work. • Climate change is expected to increase wildfire activity in the West and scientists have found evidence that it has already increased the length and severity of the West’s fire season. • Wildfires are bound up in the larger issue of forest health, with insects, disease, and climate anomalies causing numerous episodes of tree mortality in the West. 1/20/13
  • Download more slides and other libraries ecowest.org Contact us by e-mailing mitch@ceaconsulting.com 1/20/13
  • EcoWest advisors Jon Christensen, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Pritzker Fellow at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Department of History at UCLA; former director of Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford. Bruce Hamilton, Deputy Executive Director for the Sierra Club, where he has worked for more than 35 years; member of the World Commission on Protected Areas; former Field Editor for High Country News. Robert Glennon, Regents’ Professor and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona; author of Water Follies and Unquenchable. 1/20/13
  • EcoWest advisors Jonathan Hoekstra, head of WWF’s Conservation Science Program, lead author of The Atlas of Global Conservation, and former Senior Scientist at The Nature Conservancy. Timothy Male, Vice President of Conservation Policy for Defenders of Wildlife, where he directs the Habitat and Highways, Conservation Planning, Federal Lands, Oregon Biodiversity Partnership, and Economics programs. Thomas Swetnam, Regents Professor of Dendrochronology, Director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, and a leading expert on wildfires and Western forests. 1/20/13
  • Contributors at California Environmental Associates Mitch Tobin Editor of EcoWest.org Communications Director at CEA Micah Day Associate at CEA Matthew Elliott Contact us by e-mailing Principal at CEA mitch@ceaconsulting.com Max Levine Associate at CEA Caroline Ott Research Associate at CEA Sarah Weldon Affiliated consultant at CEA 1/20/13