Posted on September 27, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The magenta-flowered fireweed, which springs up after a burn, dominates a landscape once covered in black spruce in Alaskas Yukon Flats. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
‘Fire is not destroying our forests, rather, it is restoring these ecosystems …’
A group of scientists has weighed in on the political tug-of-war over forest policies by writing a letter to the U.S. Senate and President Obama, warning that two bills currently on the table would be destructive to forest ecosystems and wildlife
At issue are House Resolution 2647 and Senate Bill 1691, both proposed in response to ongoing concerns about forest fires. But the measures won’t improve forest health or reduce fire risks, the scientists said. Instead, the laws are aimed at short-cutting environmental studies, reducing public involvement and preventing courts from enforcing environmental laws.
The role of the timber industry in federal forest management would also unfairly increase under the deceptive guise of promoting decision-making by “collaborative” groups, the scientists wrote.
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests | Tagged: Congress, Environment, forest, forest fires, forest policy, public lands | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Budget ‘borrowing’ reaches $700 million as political gridlock prevents meaningful budget reform
A wildfire in Yellowstone National Park. Photo via National Park Service.
With wildfires still raging across the West, the U.S. Forest Service has already used up its firefighting budget for the year. This week, the agency notified Congress that another $250 million will be needed to cover the spiraling costs.
Subsequently, top cabinet officials sent a formal letter asking Congress to change the way the nation pays for firefighting so that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management can invest in forest and rangeland restoration, and make lands less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, forests | Tagged: Congress, firefighting, forest fires, Forest Service, wildfire budget, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The 2013 Big Meadows fire in Rocky Mountain National Park scorched more than 600 acres. Photo courtesy RMNP.
Drying grasses and shrubs up fire danger in parts of Colorado
FRISCO — Summer may be winding down, but the wildfire season is not over yet. In the past ten days, fire managers and park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park have responded to four illegal, escaped campfires.
All four were quickly extinguished, each burning less than 0.25 acres, but park managers say they all had the potential to spread quickly and threaten lives and property. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Snow and weather, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, fire danger, public lands, Rocky Mountain National Park, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
There have been significant die-backs in Colorado aspen forests during recent hot droughts and the stands may never regenerate in some areas because of global warming. @bberwyn photo.
Giant fires, insect outbreaks could be ‘game-changer’ for some forests
FRISCO —Forest Service researchers say “mega-disturbances” like giant wildfires and insect outbreaks are likely to hasten the slow demise of temperate forest ecosystems in the coming decades.
Even without those large-scale events, some forests appear to be transitioning to shrublands and steppe, and big disturbances could speed that process, according to a new study published this month in Science. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, extreme weather, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: climate change, drought, Forest health, forest regeneration, forests, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Real-time info and detailed imaging helps firefighter get the jump on dangerous blazes
FRISCO — New satellite-based technologies developed by NASA have already helped firefighters in South Africa respond to dangerous wildfires, and could help resource managers in the U.S. get a jump on blazes that threaten communities.
The new fire detection tool uses data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite to detect smaller fires in more detail than previous space-based products. The high-resolution data have been used with a cutting-edge computer model to predict how a fire will change direction based on weather and land conditions. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Environment, forest fires, NASA. firefighting, VIIRS, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 22, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
In late June, smoke from wildfires in Canada streamed down over North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
New study tracks regional nuances, global trends
FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists and other researchers say there has been a significant increase in the length of wildfire seasons on nearly every continent, with the exception of Australia. Fire weather seasons around the globe have increased by nearly 20 percent and the global burnable area doubled over the past 35 years.
Most vegetation types, except boreal forests, showed significant increases in the fire weather season length, the new study found. Some areas, such as the Western and Southeastern United States, Alaska, tropical and sub-tropical South America and Eastern Africa and large parts of Eurasia show a steady lengthening of the fire season from 1979-2013. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, Environment, forest fires, forests, global warming, wildfires | Tagged: climate change, Environment, forest fires, global warming, greenhouse gases, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Important mushroom species that help trees grow were wiped out by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, potentially leaving future forests more susceptible to renewed insect attacks. @bberwyn photo.
Widespread mushroom die-off dramatically lowers seedling survival rate
FRISCO — The recent pine beetle outbreak in western forests may have left the next generation of trees more vulnerable to future pests, Canadian researchers concluded in a new study that examined how the wave of tree deaths affected fungi that grow together with lodgepole pines.
Many trees, including lodgepoles, are partly dependent on certain fungi that enable a nutrient exchange at the cellular level. But the pine beetle outbreak was so widespread that many of the beneficial fungi disappeared. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forests, mushrooms and fungi, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Forest health, forest regeneration, forests, fungi, mountain pine beetles, mushrooms | Leave a comment »