In The News

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.

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

Congress Tries to speed up contentious post-fire logging

October 15, 2015
By Jodi Peterson
High Country News web exclusive

Congressional Republicans are pushing two bills, supported by the timber industry, that would speed up logging in national forests after wildfires and reduce environmental review, despite science showing timber salvage harms essential wildlife habitat.

Nature replants its own burned forests, environmentalists say

September 27, 2015
Los Angeles Times
By: Nigel Duara

During the dry summer of 2011, wind gusts sparked a fire on federal land that burned for five weeks over an area the size of Manhattan. Federal foresters decided the towering ponderosa pines would never return and declared the area dead.

But a growing body of fire research indicates that the federal salvage strategy creates more problems than it solves by stunting tree regrowth, denying habitat to a variety of species and increasing the risk of erosion. . .

Wildlife groups seeks Federal protection for the California spotted owl

September 18, 2015
Los Angeles Times, Science Now
By Louis Sahagun

In the latest round in a 15-year legal battle to keep the California spotted owl safe from U.S. Forest Service logging policies, federal wildlife authorities have agreed to reconsider an earlier decision to deny the timid raptor protection under the Endangered Species Act.

New research, [ ] indicates that thinning and post-fire salvage logging are "the main threat to the spotted owls' survival," according to a petition for listing filed late last year by the Wild Nature Institute and the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute.

LAKE FIRE: Aspens rising form the ashes

August 29, 2015
The Press Enterprise
By David Downey

Not many would suggest that it was lucky the Lake fire torched nearly 50 square miles of the San Bernardino National Forest this summer. But Big Bear ecologist Chad Hanson called it a “wonderful stroke of luck for the aspen.”

Barely two months after flames incinerated a rare Southern California aspen grove, lush, waist-high and knee-high trees with fat leaves are shooting up through the charcoal-black ashen bed of the forest floor.

FOREST REBIRTH: Southern area plants first to return

August 29, 2015
The Press Enterprise
By Dave Danelski

A new study led by Forest Service researchers asserts that fires are reshaping the varieties of plants that return to our woods. But the study has been criticized because it lacks sufficient data to establish such a global trend, and only states what scientists have known for decades: the influx of manzanitas and other sun cravers after a fire is simply a forest’s natural cycle of life.

Wildfire Recovery Debate Goes On

July 24, 2015
By Guy McCarthy
The Union Democrat

Republicans in Congress are pushing The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015. But rather than improving forest, watershed or wildlife health, as its authors claim, the Act will streamline the destruction and removal of forest habitat, including the majority of the most biodiverse habitat found in the forest - mature and old forest which has burned at high-intensity.