Forest Fire in the American Southwest
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Caught in the Crossfire
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Bark Beetles: massive attack-mass casualties
The wildland-urban interface
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Fire in the West—A losing battle?

SPECIAL FEATURE - May 26, 2003

Since the 1960s, the ’let it burn’ approach to wildfire has gained wider and wider acceptance. But as fires increasingly come up against the West’s phenomenal population growth – and as some scientists warn that a century of aggressive fire fighting has caused an explosive buildup of trees and brush – we’re spending billions fighting ’catastrophic’ forest fires every year.

Now, some scientists are finding evidence that the big blowups will continue, whether we like it or not. And for the forests, that may be good news. To read the story, click here.


Members of the Sierra Hotshot crew of Oakhurst, California, use a backburn to help combat the Rodeo-Chediski fire in Arizona, last June. AP World Wide

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Signs both in support and protest of President Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative line a wall as citizens gather in an overflow area to watch the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health's first field hearing at City Hall on March 7, 2003. Greg Bryan / Arizona Daily Sun.

Blame misplaced in forest appeals?

By GARY GHIOTO
Arizona Daily Sun Staff Reporter
Flagstaff, AZ
4/22/2003

As fires burned across the West last summer, Arizona politicians such as then-Gov. Jane Hull and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl said appeals filed by environmentalists had delayed or blocked forest thinning projects that could have prevented wildfires that scorched millions of acres.

Some members of Arizona's congressional delegation, such as U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Flagstaff, said the only way to stop "obstructionist environmentalists" was to pass legislation making it harder for them to appeal forest projects.

read more...

Read the Ecological Restoration Institute report, "Show Me the Data!: Wildfires, Healthy Forests, and Forest Service Administrative Appeals."

Read the GAO report, "Forest Service: Information on Decisions Involving Fuels Reduction Activities."

Read E.J. Montini's 6/26/03 column in the Arizona Republic: "Trying not to fan political fires"

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The Healthy Forests Initiative

The White House plan proposes to "cut red tape," allowing the Forest Service to more easily implement treatments in the National Forests. Exemptions to environmental regulations such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Forest Management Act may be enacted in order to avoid law suits that slow down or prevent timber sales and other treatments.

Critics charge that the plan comes straight from corporate timber interests. They claim it would increase logging and reduce public input into public forest management, neither of which will do anything to protect rural communities from the real threat of forest fires.

Click here for more information

The Hon. Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, describes fire season forecasts for the nation during a field hearing of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health at Flagstaff City Hall on March 7, 2003. Photo by Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun
The Hon. Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, describes fire season forecasts for the nation during a field hearing of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health at Flagstaff City Hall on March 7, 2003. Photo by Jake Bacon / Arizona Daily Sun.

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Ohio Division of Forestry firefighter Brian Howard uses a fuel can to light a section of forest near West Portsmouth, Ohio Tuesday, April 15, 2003. Howard and others were using back-fire methods in an attempt to stop the spread of a forest fire that has already claimed over 250 acres. (AP Photo/Portsmouth Daily Times, Scott Osborne)
Ohio Division of Forestry firefighter Brian Howard uses a fuel can to light a section of forest near West Portsmouth, Ohio Tuesday, April 15, 2003. Howard and others were using back-fire methods in an attempt to stop the spread of a forest fire that has already claimed over 250 acres. (AP Photo/Portsmouth Daily Times, Scott Osborne)

Caught in the Crossfire

By JOHN MacDONALD
Associated Press Writer
4/17/2003

MISSOULA, Mont. -- For 20 years, Forest Service researcher Jack Cohen avoided getting dragged into the politically sticky world of forest management.

While bureaucrats, loggers and environmentalists argued over how best to manage forests and forest fires, Cohen stuck to his research into fire behavior, pleased if it added some objectivity to the debate, but resigned to the likelihood it would not.

"My philosophy has always been that of a scientist," says Cohen, a veteran fire researcher at the Forest Service's Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula. "I say 'This is my study. What somebody does with my research in forest management, well, that's up to them.' "

read more...

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Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano on Thursday released a forest-management plan that embraces everything from controlled burns to tree cutting as ways to protect Arizona's forests from disastrous wildfires.

But the plan stops short of endorsing logging and instead relies on scientific findings to set the guidelines for which trees should be cut.

The emphasis on science drew praise from both sides of the emotionally charged forest-management debate.

Read more...
Read the Plan
Who's involved?
The "Healthier Forests Initiative"

Governor Delivers Plan for Forests

Mary JO PITZL
The Arizona Republic
4/ 11/2003


Gov. Napolitano visits Northern Arizona University's Centennial Forest west of Flagstaff - Arizona Daily Sun photo

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Ponderosa pine mortality on Mars Hill in Flagstaff due to bark beetle attack.
Ponderosa pine mortality on Mars Hill in Flagstaff due to bark beetle attack.

Massive Attack, Mass Casualties

Bark Beetles Add to Fire Danger

By GARY GHIOTO
Arizona Daily Sun Staff Reporter
Flagstaff, Arizona
3/16/2003

The good news is that precipitation in northern Arizona this winter may be just enough to give many relatively healthy ponderosa pines a fighting chance against fatal bark beetle attacks, forestry experts say.

The bad news is that it takes "several years" of normal rainfall before drought-stressed pines can fully recover and produce beetle-fighting pitch, they add.

But the really bad news is the forecast of dead and dying trees for 2003 may skyrocket and current forest conditions promise a bark beetle outbreak in just a few weeks at least as bad as last year's, when 2 million trees in Arizona were killed.

read more...

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"In a recent guest editorial 'Should the Forest Service have money to burn?' author Randel O'Toole makes the serious error of assuming that simply protecting houses is all that should be required during destructive wildfires. His approach is a false economy, based on the mistaken belief that homes are the only real value-at-risk during these events.

"The 'interface,' where it is and what it is, has long been a matter of discussion among land managers and wildland fire professionals. With the release of the National Fire Plan in the fall of 2000, and subsequent congressional appropriations designed to treat hazardous fuels, new parties have joined the debate. The reality that few understand, and that fewer are willing to accept, is that the interface is big, and can easily encompass several jurisdictions and ownerships. It extends for miles, includes substantial public land and all of it needs attention and treatment..."

read more

To read Randel O'Toole's guest editorial, "Should the Forest Service have money to burn?" click here.

Wildland/urban interface: What's really at risk?

By PAUL SUMMERFELT
Special to the Arizona Daily Sun
Flagstaff, Arizona
1/08/2003

Paul Summerfelt is the Fuel Management Officer with the Flagstaff Fire Department. To learn more about the department's efforts, visit http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/fuelmanagement

To learn more about the wildland/urban interface (WUI), click here.

What can you do to protect your property? Read this book!

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Last edited June 26, 2003

 
NAU's Program in Community, Culture and Environment Northern Arizona University