Sen. Daines’ wildfire survey takes simplistic view

Letter by Joshua C. Dickinson, PhD
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
November 7, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Sen. Danes

Sen. Daines recently circulated a survey asking what most contributes to catastrophic wildfires in Montana: mismanagement of federal forests; environmental groups and judges who block timber harvests; or global warming? The “survey” is over-simplified and politically skewed. Studies by University of Montana forest scientists indicate that almost 50 percent of Western wildfires are climate change related, with the unusually dry 2017 summer being a notable example. Fire has been integral to the ecology of Western forests and grasslands for millennia, with plants and animals adapted to fire. Indigenous peoples of the region utilized fire to maintain desired wildlife habitat. Fire suppression has proved to be counter-productive. Fire damage can be mitigated, but not eliminated, by forest thinning, and particularly prescribed burning, which can reduce accumulated fuels.

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