California Has Been Warned About the Dangers But Chose to Do Nothing

Dec 2014
18,006
6,590
The Milky Way
A more recent count says the numbers are much higher than the 100 million mentioned in the article. Bad forest management at work.


California Today: 100 Million Dead Trees Prompt Fears of Giant Wildfires



The more than 100 million trees that died in California after being weakened by drought and insect infestations have transformed large swaths of the Sierra Nevada into browned-out tree cemeteries. In some areas more than 90 percent of trees are dead.

This week a group of scientists warned in the journal BioScience that the dead trees could produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen.

Coming in the aftermath of the deadly and destructive fires last year both in wine country and Southern California, the warning is sobering because the scientists say they cannot even calculate the damage the dead-tree fires might cause; it exceeds what their current fire behavior modeling can simulate.

“It’s something that is going to be much more severe,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at Berkeley and the lead author of the study. “You could have higher amounts of embers coming into home areas, starting more fires.”

...


Mark A. Finney, an expert in fire behavior for the U.S. Forest Service and an author of the study, says California forests are much more vulnerable now because, paradoxically, they have been better protected. In their natural state, forests were regularly thinned by fire but the billions of dollars that the state spends aggressively fighting wildfires and restrictions on logging have allowed forests to accumulate an overload of vegetation.



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/us/california-today-100-million-dead-trees-prompt-fears-of-giant-wildfires.html
 
Sep 2012
4,368
4,659
California
This has been known for a long time now. Due to our reactions to the Big Burn in the early part of the 1900s, we adopted a strategy of trying to put out forest fires. We created Smokey the Bear to get the message out. Now that we have a century of results to study, it does seem like current forest management needs to change in reaction to the massive fires we see every year across the west. This is a function of policy across the board and public sentiment is mixed about letting forest fires just rage out of control. In addition, people live in those forests and they believe they are entitled to fire protection even though they live in a high fire danger zone. As for cutting dead trees, I am unaware of anyone who is against culling dead trees as long as it is done without destroying habitat or increasing roads into the wilds. At the end of the day, we will have to accept the fact that forest fires are going to occur more frequently, they will be larger and more dangerous and while we can mitigate the damage to some extent, nothing can really stop one of these fires if it wants to move. I know conservatives want to blame someone for it, that is how they roll. But this is much bigger than politics, it comes down to each of us being willing to watch entire forests burn in order to save them for future generations. There is a wonderful TED talk on this very subject by a forestry professor. What he advises is not something most of us want to hear. Fires are part of nature, our homes and logging interests are not.
 
Feb 2015
16,919
8,596
sadness
This is nothing new. Anyone who drives or flies over CA can see this.

I am not surprised at the intensity of the wild fires. While saddened by the loss of lives and property fire clearing out the underbrush and dead trees is a natural earth system.
 
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Nov 2010
23,156
14,835
This is nothing new. Anyone who drives or flies over CA can see this.

I am not surprised at the intensity of the wild fires. While saddened by the loss of lives and property fire clearing out the underbrush and dead trees is a natural earth system.
it's pretty much the entire west, Colorado, Montana also full of dead trees thanks to the stupid pine beetle
 
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Jul 2014
40,455
11,006
midwest
This has been known for a long time now. Due to our reactions to the Big Burn in the early part of the 1900s, we adopted a strategy of trying to put out forest fires. We created Smokey the Bear to get the message out. Now that we have a century of results to study, it does seem like current forest management needs to change in reaction to the massive fires we see every year across the west. This is a function of policy across the board and public sentiment is mixed about letting forest fires just rage out of control. In addition, people live in those forests and they believe they are entitled to fire protection even though they live in a high fire danger zone. As for cutting dead trees, I am unaware of anyone who is against culling dead trees as long as it is done without destroying habitat or increasing roads into the wilds. At the end of the day, we will have to accept the fact that forest fires are going to occur more frequently, they will be larger and more dangerous and while we can mitigate the damage to some extent, nothing can really stop one of these fires if it wants to move. I know conservatives want to blame someone for it, that is how they roll. But this is much bigger than politics, it comes down to each of us being willing to watch entire forests burn in order to save them for future generations. There is a wonderful TED talk on this very subject by a forestry professor. What he advises is not something most of us want to hear. Fires are part of nature, our homes and logging interests are not.
It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

We learn the hard way...as usual.

Same with Florida and the Everglades.

We try to make things better, and end up making them worse...
 
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Dec 2014
18,006
6,590
The Milky Way
This has been known for a long time now. Due to our reactions to the Big Burn in the early part of the 1900s, we adopted a strategy of trying to put out forest fires. We created Smokey the Bear to get the message out. Now that we have a century of results to study, it does seem like current forest management needs to change in reaction to the massive fires we see every year across the west. This is a function of policy across the board and public sentiment is mixed about letting forest fires just rage out of control. In addition, people live in those forests and they believe they are entitled to fire protection even though they live in a high fire danger zone. As for cutting dead trees, I am unaware of anyone who is against culling dead trees as long as it is done without destroying habitat or increasing roads into the wilds. At the end of the day, we will have to accept the fact that forest fires are going to occur more frequently, they will be larger and more dangerous and while we can mitigate the damage to some extent, nothing can really stop one of these fires if it wants to move. I know conservatives want to blame someone for it, that is how they roll. But this is much bigger than politics, it comes down to each of us being willing to watch entire forests burn in order to save them for future generations. There is a wonderful TED talk on this very subject by a forestry professor. What he advises is not something most of us want to hear. Fires are part of nature, our homes and logging interests are not.

President Reagan followed the 'let it burn' for Yellowstone in the 1980's, at least for a while. That was long enough to do what nature needed to do. Of course he was vilified, but stood by his guns long enough.

"Logging interests" have a valuable role to play in all of this.
 

Blues63

Moderator
Dec 2014
14,680
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Mustafa
A more recent count says the numbers are much higher than the 100 million mentioned in the article. Bad forest management at work.


California Today: 100 Million Dead Trees Prompt Fears of Giant Wildfires



The more than 100 million trees that died in California after being weakened by drought and insect infestations have transformed large swaths of the Sierra Nevada into browned-out tree cemeteries. In some areas more than 90 percent of trees are dead.

This week a group of scientists warned in the journal BioScience that the dead trees could produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen.

Coming in the aftermath of the deadly and destructive fires last year both in wine country and Southern California, the warning is sobering because the scientists say they cannot even calculate the damage the dead-tree fires might cause; it exceeds what their current fire behavior modeling can simulate.

“It’s something that is going to be much more severe,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at Berkeley and the lead author of the study. “You could have higher amounts of embers coming into home areas, starting more fires.”

...


Mark A. Finney, an expert in fire behavior for the U.S. Forest Service and an author of the study, says California forests are much more vulnerable now because, paradoxically, they have been better protected. In their natural state, forests were regularly thinned by fire but the billions of dollars that the state spends aggressively fighting wildfires and restrictions on logging have allowed forests to accumulate an overload of vegetation.



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/us/california-today-100-million-dead-trees-prompt-fears-of-giant-wildfires.html
From an Australian POV, drought will do that. I thought it would have been obvious, but large scale land clearing after such an event is hardly practical.
 
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