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Thread: Prescribed Burns in Forest Lands in Western USA

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    Prescribed Burns in Forest Lands in Western USA

    University of California-Berkeley forestry professor Harold "Doc" Biswell was ridiculed over his experiments with controlled fires in the pine forests in the 1950s. Doc Biswell died in 1992 at the age of 86.

    Now, "prescribed burns" are seen as essential to clear underbrush and consume surface fuels in the forests.

    Do you want to burn in a planned, strategic way that has an element of control to it; or do you want it to burn in mega-fires, with all the costs - human, animal, environmental costs - which that entails?

    Paul Doffing expresses the sense of loss caused by the Peshtigo fire in Wisconsin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ8C3Lfyg6g

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    From what I've read they make sense. I wish we did more of them here. Our house backs onto a very small wilderness park (maybe 30 acres) that is surrounded by suburban housing so we "should" be ok. Judging from the low cost of our homeowners insurance State Farm thinks we should be ok. But until a few years ago no one thought that a whole neighborhood of Santa Rosa (half hour north of here) including chunks of a shopping center surrounded by a massive parking lot were in danger either. But they were.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Isn’t prescribed and controlled burns the latest darling of how to solve the problem of horrific fires out west?

    Good luck with it all.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    If controlled burns can help protect lives and property, I'm for them. They make sense. But I do think a larger question remains.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us...cs/ar-BB1gbIqb

    Important wildfire statistics
    4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires. (Verisk)
    There were 58,950 wildfires in 2020, which affected 10,122,336 acres, compared to just 18,229 wildfires and 1,323,666 acres lost in 1983 when official record-keeping began. (NIFC)
    There was a 17% increase from 2019 to 2020 in U.S. wildfires and a 223% increase since 1983. (NIFC)
    Humans cause as many as 90% of wildfires. (U.S. Department of Interior)
    Five of California’s top 20 biggest wildfires occurred in 2020. (iii)


    Why the big uptick?
    What impact is climate change having on the increased incidence of wildfires?
    "Humans cause 90%"--what specifically? Climate change? Unattended camp fires? Arson?

    How do we get to the "root" (no pun intended) of the problem and address that, rather than just burn up natural stuff to mitigate the "incendiary" (pun intended) human behavior?
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    If controlled burns can help protect lives and property, I'm for them. They make sense. But I do think a larger question remains.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us...cs/ar-BB1gbIqbhttps://www.stltoday.com/news/local/...0c4b8b9e6.html

    Important wildfire statistics
    4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires. (Verisk)
    There were 58,950 wildfires in 2020, which affected 10,122,336 acres, compared to just 18,229 wildfires and 1,323,666 acres lost in 1983 when official record-keeping began. (NIFC)
    There was a 17% increase from 2019 to 2020 in U.S. wildfires and a 223% increase since 1983. (NIFC)
    Humans cause as many as 90% of wildfires. (U.S. Department of Interior)
    Five of California’s top 20 biggest wildfires occurred in 2020. (iii)


    Why the big uptick?
    What impact is climate change having on the increased incidence of wildfires?
    "Humans cause 90%"--what specifically? Climate change? Unattended camp fires? Arson?

    How do we get to the "root" (no pun intended) of the problem and address that, rather than just burn up natural stuff to mitigate the "incendiary" (pun intended) human behavior?
    Humans spreading themselves all over hell in dryland country has rather a lot to do with the “terrible destruction “since much of that destruction is their structures.

    It is all about the humans wanting to live in places where humans probably shouldn’t be living. See how neat and tidily I have wrapped that up? The drylands don’t support human human habitation in many ways. That is my theory and I’m sticking to it ha ha.

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Here people going outside the city and doing target practice where it’s not allowed have started plenty of fires.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Humans spreading themselves all over hell in dryland country has rather a lot to do with the “terrible destruction “since much of that destruction is their structures.

    It is all about the humans wanting to live in places where humans probably shouldn’t be living. See how neat and tidily I have wrapped that up? The drylands don’t support human human habitation in many ways. That is my theory and I’m sticking to it ha ha.
    I totally agree with you but the simple obvious answer is rarely accepted. The entire world might accept that certain boundaries will benefit all if followed but someone with an ego will attempt to cross that boundary with no respect for the consequences simply to prove it can be done. Why would anyone attempt a gender reveal resulting in an explosion in an area with dreadful drought conditions that have resulted in a long history of severe fires?
    As Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    I totally agree with you but the simple obvious answer is rarely accepted. The entire world might accept that certain boundaries will benefit all if followed but someone with an ego will attempt to cross that boundary with no respect for the consequences simply to prove it can be done. Why would anyone attempt a gender reveal resulting in an explosion in an area with dreadful drought conditions that have resulted in a long history of severe fires?
    gender reveal? I feel like i missed aomething here.

    But the dry lands of the west are not the only places where fireworks starts fires. Each year here in St. Louis, buildings burn ground due to the fireworks and sometimes it’s multiples that bun in a year.

    https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/...0584cb9d2.html


    https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/st...l-in-the-city/

    18,500 fires are started annually by fireworks according to the national fire safety Council. Of those, 1300 are human built structures that burn.

    But all the laws in the world against that doesn’t keep my compatriots in my urban core from running fireworks from the beginning of June until about July 10.

    My Nextdoor newsfeed is raging about fireworks and race issues. No one is allowed to complain about fireworks. It’s a race issue, an equity issue, and black people get to run fireworks with impunity especially now since
    Juneteenth comes so close to Independance Day. No one is allowed to politely ask our neighbors to cease and desist with the fireworks fire hazard. . That is considered a Karen act. Karens and Chads need to stand in front of their houses directing hose water up onto their roofs, I guess, e@ch nigh, for six weeks.

    This Karen thinks that politely talking to your neighbors directly about this is a respectful way to approach it but apparently not. And calling law enforcement is beyond the pale. Not that the cops will come for that, because of course they will not.

    I cannot get out if this ridiculous city environment soon enough. As it is,
    i think I need to hang up my Nextdoor moderator hat.

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    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    From my little bit of research the experts in Colorado seem to agree that prescribed burns are part of the solution. The state has accumulated one and a half million acres of beetle kill pine that has been lying on the ground over the last 15 years and is now prime tinder for fires. Most attribute the beetle kill to a warming climate. And that's not to mention accumulations of dry undergrowth. One article claimed there would have to be 80,000 acres of controlled burn for the next twenty years to return the state's forest to what they are called the normal healthy state.

    Like a lot of climate change related damage, the solution seems to have some agreement, but paying for things is the issue. It's one of those market externalities involved with the cost of climate change. Unlike the national averages, some claim that most of our state's fires are caused by lightning. The human caused fires I looked up ranged from arson to odd things like sparks from a dragging chain. I'm not sure how far root cause analysis can go in eliminating fire sources here.

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