Kirsters Baish| It has been reported that wildfire experts are blaming poor forest management, rather than global warming, for rapidly spreading wildfires. Bob Zybach, a forester, warned everyone years ago that together, environmental regulations and limited logging would only make the wildfires worse. Zybach warned decades back that by letting Oregon’s forests to continually grow without being checked regularly, there would be horrific wildfires.
Some people want to put the blame on “global warming,” Zybach explained. However, a change in forest management policies is to blame, he insists. This is generally the case in the Pacific Northwest and California.
Zybach, who is also the holder of a Ph.D in environmental science, explained to the Daily Caller, “We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away.”
Western Journal reports:
Zybach spent two decades as a reforestation contractor before heading to graduate school in the 1990s. Then the Clinton administration in 1994 introduced its plan to protect old growth trees and spotted owls by strictly limiting logging.
Less logging also meant government foresters weren’t doing as much active management of forests — thinnings, prescribed burns and other activities to reduce wildfire risk.
Zybach told Evergreen magazine that year the Clinton administration’s plan for “naturally functioning ecosystems” free of human interference ignored history and would fuel “wildfires reminiscent of the Tillamook burn, the 1910 fires and the Yellowstone fire.”
Between 1952 and 1987, western Oregon had only one major fire above 10,000 acres. The region’s relatively fire-free streak ended with the Silver Complex Fire of 1987 that burned more than 100,000 acres in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area, torching rare plants and trees the federal government set aside to protect from human activities. The area has burned several more times since the 1980s.
During an interview, the forester stated, “Mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing. You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs.”
Residents of Oregon are now having to deal with 13 giant wildfires that are swallowing up 185,000 acres of land. The state of California is currently riddled with nine fires that are covering over 577,000 acres. Most of the area in California being affected is in the northern forested areas that are managed by federal agencies.
A fire at The Mendocino Complex Fire spread so rapidly that it became largest wildfire in the state of California since the 1930s. It has swallowed up over 283,000 acres. The old record was set in 2017 in a Southern California fire that singed 281,893 acres. It was called Thomas Fire.
Zybach blames poor management for turning the western forests of the U.S. into “slow-motion time bombs.”
“If we can’t manage our forests, what the hell?” Zybach exclaimed to TheDCNF.
Western Journal explains that experts feel that “a century of fire suppression caused forests to become overgrown and filled with dead wood and debris that easily ignites in the dry summer heat.” There is some arguments when it comes down to the question of how global warming relates to wildfires… if it does at all.
Democratic Governor of California, Jerry Brown, stated that giant wildfires in the state were part of something he called the “new normal.” He blamed global warming.
“Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire,” climate scientist at the University of Washington, Cliff Mass, explained TheDCNF.
Mass also explained that there has not been a lot warming in the Pacific Northwest.
“Many of the media and some politicians has been pushing a false narrative: that the fires are mainly about global warming. They are not,” Mass explained via email. He also shamed politicians for trying to turn our world climate into a political debate.
“To say there’s been another change, other than management, is just grasping at straws,” Zybach said.
Western Journal writes:
What has changed is land management. For example, declines in timber production on federal lands, particularly in the Northwest, not only meant the death of a once vibrant industry but also an end to thinning, controlled burns and other activities meant to keep forest growth in check.
Wildfire experts have also increasingly been pointing to the fact that more people and infrastructure are located in wildfire-prone areas than in the past, increasing the risk of wildfires impacting livelihoods.
A recent study found the number of homes at risk of wildfires in the western U.S. increased 1,000 percent since 1940, from about 607,000 in 1940 to 6.7 million. Since most fires are ignited by humans, the more people in fire-prone areas the higher the risk.
During the 1930s, Oregon saw some seriously destructive wildfires during the Dust Bowl. Zybach stated that Native Americans used to conduct controlled burns in order to manage the forest in Oregon, California, and Washington. This practice went on for thousands of years. Up to 1 million of acres of land would be burned in the practice every single year on the west coast of the country.
Zybach explained, “The Indians had lots of big fires, but they were controlled. It’s the lack of Indian burning, the lack of grazing” and other active management techniques that caused fires to become more destructive in the 19th and early 20th centuries before logging operations and forest management techniques got fires under control in the mid-20th Century.