Wildfires: a ‘nuked’ landscape and burned tree seeds

August 9, 2016
By Brittany Patterson
E&E Reporter

The Rim Fire blazed through the alpine forest of California's Sierra Nevada in 2013, growing into one of the largest and most expensive wildfires in the state's history. Today, many researchers are racing to discover how this new fire regime is affecting California's diverse landscapes, from the highest subalpine forests to shrubby chaparral.

Experts: Fight fire with fire

July 25, 2016
By Joshua Emerson Smith
San Diego Union Tribune

California’s forests could benefit from more fires, according to scientists and state officials tasked with protecting people and property from high-intensity blazes. The state’s ongoing epidemic of dead or dying trees has stoked fears about increased wildfires, but scientists and state officials agreed the dead wood may not be the threat many believe. Rather, they expressed the need for longer-term strategies to protect backcountry homes and businesses.

Focus: Do Dead or Dying Trees Raise WildFire Risk?

July 6, 2016
By Joshua Emerson Smith
San Diego Union Tribune

As a record number of trees stand dead or dying in California’s forests due to drought and beetle infestations, concerns are mounting that the die-off is creating an abundance of fuel likely to trigger wildfires that could threaten homes and lives. However, an emerging body of science finds little evidence to support these fears.

Dead Trees Aren’t a Wildfire Threat, but Overlogging Them Will Ruin our Forest Ecosystems

June 27, 2016
By Chad Hanson, Ph.D.
Los Angeles Times Op-Ed

There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due to several years of drought and native bark beetles. Stirring up fear to promote increased logging and funding from Congress, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack claims that these trees create a “catastrophic” wildfire threat. The science disagrees.

Feinstein, Brown Promote Misinformed and Destructive Logging Programs

March 8, 2016
By Chad Hanson, Ph.D.
Earth Island Journal Online
Latest News

Dead trees in our forests do not increase fire risk, they create rare and extremely biodiverse habitat necessary for the health of our forests and California wildlife. While politicians such as Senator Feinstein and Governor Brown are using natural processes such as fire and increases in native bark beetle populations to propose tax payer funded increases in logging across State and Federal lands, the science is telling us this is the wrong way to go.

State, San Diego County Grapple with Historic Tree Die-Off

June 27, 2016
By Joshua Emerson Smith
San Diego Union Tribune

As wildfires burn in Southern California, a debate is smoldering about what to do with millions of dead and dying trees — which have been ravaged by drought and beetle species up and down the state.

Clearcuts for Christmas?

December 7, 2015
By Chad Hanson
Earth Island Journal: Latest News

When Americans think about the presents they want for the Holidays, clearcuts on our national forests and other federal public lands is not what they have in mind. But that is exactly what radical, anti-environmental members of Congress are proposing to do right now — make a generous gift to the logging industry.

Destructive Logging “Rider” Looms in Congress

December 4, 2015
By Chad Hanson
Soap Box on EarthTalk.Org

It is a cynical rule of politics that, if you get people sufficiently scared and confused, many can be persuaded to agree to some of the worst and most irresponsible ideas. Case in point, the threat that has emerged this week from Senate Republicans . . .

Time’s Flaming Arrow

November 12, 2015
Mary Ellen Hannibal
Huffington Post

A little more than a week ago, I drove into Yosemite National Park for a week-long, California Master Naturalist immersion course. I was euphoric, about to sequester in beauty to study deeper levels of what Shakespeare called "nature's infinite book." Heading in from Oakdale, mile upon mile of mountainous hillside was covered in rusty brown dead trees. . . . The California landscape evolved with lightning-strike fires, and Native Californians used fire to manage their food sources, both animal and vegetable. We have been suppressing fire and battling fire on the landscape for more than a hundred years, with the idea that it is a destructive force to contain. We have stopped a natural cycle from turning - for the moment.

The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature's Phoenix explains it all to you. Edited by fire gurus Dominick DellaSala and Chad Hanson, the science papers gathered therein summarize what fire actually does, as opposed to what we assume it does

Changing the Conversation About Fire

November 12, 2015
By Dominick DellaSala, Chad Hanson and Tim Inglesbee
ELSEVIER SciTech Connect Blog

As two forest ecologists and a firefighter, we view forests as a dynamic ecosystem, see fire as nature’s circle of life, and promote coexistence with backcountry fires rather than relentlessly fighting them. While the news media and Congress each year proclaim burnt forests from Yellowstone to the Sierra and Cascade Mountains as unprecedented catastrophes, we see nature’s remarkable resilience at work. We seek a rational conversation especially now as fire season has died down.

Did You Know

that dead trees do not increase the occurrence or intensity of wild fires? Or that Bark beetles are a native species and not an invading force?

In fact, not only do dead trees and Bark beetles not increase fire risk, they are both essential to a healthy forest ecosystem.

Native Bark beetles always exist in our forest, but at certain points in time, such as during a period of drought, these insects increase their numbers in order to weed out the less fit trees, creating snags (dead trees), and enabling the fittest trees with the best DNA to have the resources they need to survive. This creates a healthier, more resilient (able to survive the tough times) forest.

Not only do Bark beetles improve forest health, they also increase native biodiversity. They themselves are a food source for many birds and even other insects, and the dead trees they create provide homes for cavity nesting birds and mammals and permit flowering and berry producing shrubs to germinate in the sunlight attracting even more species!

Another View: Forests recover from fires without clearcutting

October 22, 2015
By Chad Hanson, Ph.D.
Sacramento Bee Editorial

The timber industry makes a lot of money clear-cutting our national forests after fires, so it’s no surprise that it takes some liberties with the facts.
The logging industry claims that where fires burn most intensely, the forest does not naturally regenerate, suggesting that post-fire logging is needed to generate revenue for artificial tree planting. This is a myth. Scientific studies consistently find vigorous natural regeneration of conifers and oaks in high-intensity fire patches. . .