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    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two fires that merged to create the largest wildfire in New Mexico history have both been traced to prescribed burns set by U.S. forest managers as preventative measures, federal investigators announced Friday. The findings could hold implications for the future use of prescribed fire to limit the buildup of dry vegetation amid a U.S. Forest Service moratorium on the practice. They also could affect complex deliberations concerning emergency aid and liability for a fire that has spread across 486 square miles (1,260 square kilometers) and destroyed hundreds of structures. The two fires joined in April to form the massive blaze at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, in the Sangre de Cristo range. One of the fires was previously traced to April 6, when a prescribed burn, set by firefighters to clear out small trees and brush that can fuel wildfires, was declared out of control. On Friday, investigators said they had tracked the source of the second fire to the remnants of a prescribed winter fire that lay dormant through several snowstorms...
    (CNN)The US Forest Service is hitting a pause on prescribed fire operations in all the system's lands across the US because of "extreme wildfire risk conditions," Chief Randy Moore announced Friday.The news follows a meeting federal officials had earlier in the day with the governor of New Mexico, where a prescribed fire escaped containment last month and has since grown to more than 300,000 acres.During the pause on those operations, the Forest Service will conduct a 90-day review of protocols, practices and the decision support tools ahead of the operations planned for the fall, the chief said.These are the places with the highest wildfire risk in the US"Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved. Our employees who are engaging in prescribed fire operations are part of these communities across the nation," Moore said. "The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future."Prescribed fires are often used to...
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials are warning that expanding drought conditions coupled with hot and dry weather, extreme wind and unstable atmospheric conditions have led to explosive fire behavior in the southwestern U.S., where large fires continued their march across New Mexico on Friday. Crews also battled blazes in Texas and Colorado, where forecasters issued red flag warnings due to elevated fire danger. U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore cited the extreme conditions Friday in announcing a pause on prescribed fire operations on all national forest lands while his agency conducts a 90-day review of protocols, decision-making tools and practices ahead of planned operations this fall. “Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved. Our employees who are engaging in prescribed fire operations are part of these communities across the nation,” Moore said in a statement. “The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”...
    By Lauren Sklba FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Forests full of readily available fuel across Colorado create conditions in which wildfires can easily spread. The Forest Service says overstocking is a major concern, and that human activity over the past century, including the suppression of wildfires, has contributed to our forests having an abundance of fuel. “By putting out all fires small and capturing fire small, it’s led to more growth, more overstocking within national forests, or forests as a whole, across the collective Western United States,” said Mark Mendonca, with the U.S. Forest Service. Mendonca is the Deputy Fire Staff Officer of the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests where the historic Cameron Peak Fire burned. He is involved with all fire-related operations in the area. He told CBS4, suppressing fires to have a minimal footprint means there are more trees, more brush, and more herbaceous components growing. And without adequate thinning or reduction to those areas, overstocking is a likely result. The U.S. Forest Service has been involved in prescribed burns along the Front Range since the mid-80s and...
    Photo: garxfire.com The role of fire in Georgia forests as it impacts air quality, climate change and wildlife and natural resource sustainability will be among the topics explored at the 2021 meeting of the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council. The annual gathering brings together partner organizations that advocate the use of prescribed fire, or “good fire,” as a forest management tool to support a myriad of environmental benefits. “The Georgia Forestry Commission has a clear, strategic vision for fire in our state,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore. “I look forward to kicking off this meeting by sharing that strategy during this free, virtual event on Sept. 30.” The conference planning team includes the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Georgia Wildlife Federation, the U.S. Forest Service, Tall Timbers and the Jones Center at Ichauway. “Georgia DNR strongly supports prescribed fire and is proud of practitioners’ careful use of it this year to restore and manage habitats for native wildlife,” said Dr. Jon Ambrose, chief of DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section. “Prescribed...
    As the growing KNP Complex fire creeps toward California’s ancient groves of sequoia trees, firefighters are hoping a delicate and specialized tool will help protect the beloved behemoths: more fire. Experts say prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, are becoming increasingly important as California faces a new breed of hotter, faster and more frequent wildfires. The intentional use of fire on the landscape can help clear away dried vegetation that enables blazes to quickly get out of control. Officials are now banking on the strategic use of fire, as well as a history of prescribed burns in Sequoia National Park, to help keep destructive flames from reaching the towering trees. Last year, an estimated 10% of the world’s sequoias were lost in the Castle fire, and no one wants a repeat performance. There’s “a lot of really methodical work going on in this area to protect those giant trees,” said KNP Complex operations section chief Jon Wallace. As of Friday, the fire had swelled to 11,365 acres with no containment, officials said. It was within striking distance of...
    With current weather conditions being so dry, you may have noticed several smoke plumes over the weekend. Several of these plumes were from Prescribed Fires which have several significant benefits to your local forested areas.   Prescribed Fire in the South Approximately 89% of the South’s 208 million acres of forestland is privately-owned, making it the nation’s stronghold for private forestland ownership. In order to sustain healthy forests and maintain the economic viability of forestland, forest management is vital. Forest management practices such as thinning and prescribed burning create healthier, more productive forests. Overcrowded trees often struggle to survive, weakening them against insects or disease. Thinning competing trees allows remaining trees to grow faster and be more resistant to pests. Prescribed burning removes competing vegetation, improves habitat for wildlife, and reduces dangerous buildup of combustible forest fuels. Fire plays a vital role in maintaining certain ecosystems. Although there have been regional variations across the United States, fire has been used as a management tool throughout history. In the South, it...
    Purposely setting fires to reintroduce “good” fire to Marin’s landscape could be the key to lowering the risk of catastrophic infernos in the county, some fire officials say. The tactic, known as prescribed burning, might seem counterintuitive. But it’s a time-honored technique for forest management that shouldn’t be overlooked, said Bruce Goines, a retired forester who worked for more than four decades for the U.S. Forest Service and now serves as board president for the new Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority. “The problem is that people don’t like smoke, whether it’s from a wildfire or a prescribed fire,” Goines said. “The primary barrier to using prescribed fire is public acceptance.” Prescribed fires are carefully planned events that require vigilant attention. Firefighters typically schedule them for days with light wind before winter rains arrive. Fire crews create fuel breaks around the burn area in order to box the fire in, and use drip torches to light the landscape ablaze. In some cases, the fires are set on steep slopes choked with vegetation. Such areas are nearly inaccessible to land management crews, which...
    Ongoing forest fires in California are mostly a function of poor forest management, particularly insufficient controlled burns to clear away accumulated fuelwood, explained Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, offering his remarks on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow. “It has fairly little to do with climate change, and it has almost everything to do with the fact that we haven’t managed our forest well,” said Lomborg of California wildfires. “We haven’t done prescribed burning. We haven’t ensured that these fires won’t burn out of control.” Lomborg added, “We’ve just simply allowed fuelwood to build up to cause almost uncontrollable fires in California.” Prescribed burnings are necessary to reduce the risk of uncontrollable forest fires, Lomborg stated. “If we did prescribed burning, we could, in a few years, reduce the fire risk dramatically and actually get people’s lives back to — pretty close — to normal.” LISTEN: “Fires are mostly there because...
    The West is ablaze, and it’s sparking a political debate over whether poor forest management or warming temperatures is what’s making the fires so devastating. The reality, however, is that both are contributing to the massive blazes in the West. “It’s not all climate change. It’s not all forest maintenance,” said Eric Sprague, vice president for forest restoration with American Forests. “It’s them both enabling each other to create the conditions we have today.” Poor forest management and climate change have set the stage for the “unprecedented size” and “how fast the fires are moving through the system,” he added. Fires have incinerated more than 3.4 million acres in California and roughly 1 million acres in Oregon this year alone. Framing the issue as an either-or is a “silly conversation to have at this point,” Sprague said. Nonetheless, that’s how it’s being framed in the political debate. President Trump has been quick to blame California’s failure to manage its forests for the raging fires sweeping across the state. He has repeatedly said that California must “clean” its forest floors to...
    Elizabeth Weil August 31, 2020 11:09AM (UTC) This article originally appeared on ProPublica. What a week. Rough for all Californians. Exhausting for the firefighters on the front lines. Heart-shattering for those who lost homes and loved ones. But a special "Truman Show" kind of hell for the cadre of men and women who've not just watched California burn, fire ax in hand, for the past two or three or five decades, but who've also fully understood the fire policy that created the landscape that is now up in flames. "What's it like?" Tim Ingalsbee repeated back to me, wearily, when I asked him what it was like to watch California this past week. In 1980, Ingalsbee started working as a wildland firefighter. In 1995, he earned a doctorate in environmental sociology. And in 2005, frustrated by the huge gap between what he was learning about fire management and seeing on the fire line, he started Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology. Since then FUSEE has been lobbying Congress, and trying to educate anybody who will listen, about the...
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