Resources: Files and links supporting healthy forests.
Protecting Homes Against Wildfire
Defensible Space: The Best and Only Hope for the Homeowner In or Near a Forest, January 12, 2018, in Federal Land, Forest Fires. . .
Treat homes, not forests, to reduce wildfire risk, George Wuerthner, Wildlife News, February 17, 2019
Built To Burn, 99percentinvisible.org, July 31, 2018 Reporter Stephanie Joyce spoke with Jack Cohen, a retired Research Physical Scientist; Mark Finney, a Research Scientist with the U.S. Forest Service; and Shawna Legarza, the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Forest Service. Jack Cohen: “The bottom line is that we can do something. It just doesn’t have anything to do with controlling the wildfire.”
Building codes prove effective in limiting damage from wildfires in California, Mackenzie Goldberg, Archinect.com Architectural news, Apr 12, 2019 . Building codes prove effective in limiting damage from wildfires in California.
Calculating Risk and Living with the Consequences Paul Davis, Issues Magazine, Dec. 2014. A risk analyst revisits the assessment and acceptability of risk after losing his house to a US Forest Service intentional "backburn."
Tree density, Forest "Management," and The Case Against "Thinning" and Burning
Common Myths about Forests and Fire, The John Muir Project. An excellent recently published primer, well documented with scientific sources.
200+ Scientists on Wildfire and Logging: Open Letter to Decision Makers Concerning Wildfires in the West, Geos Institute, Sept. 2018 Policies should be examined that discourage continued residential growth in ecosystems that evolved with fire. The most effective way to protect existing homes is to ensure that they are as insusceptible to burning as possible (e.g., fire resistant building materials, spark arresting vents and rain-gutter guards) and to create defensible space within a 100-foot radius of a structure. Wildland fire policy should fund defensible space, home retrofitting measures and ensure ample personnel are available to discourage and prevent human-caused wildfire ignitions. Ultimately, in order to stabilize and ideally slow global temperature rise, which will increasingly affect how wildfires burn in the future, we also need a comprehensive response to climate change that is based on clean renewable energy and storing more carbon in ecosystems. Public lands were established for the public good and include most of the nation’s remaining examples of intact ecosystems that provide clean water for millions of Americans, essential wildlife habitat, recreation and economic benefits to rural communities, as well as sequestering vast quantities of carbon.
217 scientists sign letter opposing logging as a response to wildfires, Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today, September 22, 2018. One of the favorite responses of some politicians to devastating wildfires is to call for increased logging on public lands. Their reasoning is that having fewer trees will prevent large fires. The fact is that logging does not eliminate forest fires. . . . For these reasons, we urge you to reject misplaced logging proposals that will damage our environment, hinder climate mitigation goals, and will fail to protect communities from wildfire.
Why California Can’t Chainsaw Its Way Out Of A Raging Inferno, Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News, November 20, 2018
“This is a home ignition problem much more than a wildland management problem,” one fire ecologist said.
Forest "restoration" rule is ruse to increase logging, Chad T. Hanson, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 31, 2018.
The U.S. Forest Service recently proposed a sweeping effort to identify aspects of environmental analysis and public participation to be “reduced” or “eliminated” regarding commercial logging projects in our national forests, with initial public comments due Friday. The Trump administration is attempting to spin this as an effort to promote “increased efficiency” for the expansion of forest “restoration,” but these are just euphemisms for more destructive logging.
Last summer, the Trump administration endorsed the Resilient Federal Forests Act, an extreme bill that would dramatically curtail environmental analysis and restrict public participation to increase logging of old forests and post-fire clear-cutting in our national forests. The bill passed the House of Representatives in the fall but stalled in the Senate. This new regulatory proposal is simply an effort to implement the same pro-logging agenda without going through Congress.
The proposal targets an astonishing “80 million acres of National Forest System land” for commercial logging — much of it comprising old-growth forests and remote roadless areas — based on the claim that logging and clear-cutting of these areas is needed, ostensibly to save them from fire and native bark beetles. Not so. . .
Foresters vs. Ecologists, George Weurthner, Counterpunch. APRIL 3, 2018. There is a huge difference between the Industrial Forestry worldview and an ecological perspective. Many people assume that foresters understand forest ecosystems, but what you learn in forestry school is how to produce wood fiber to sell to the wood products industry. I know because I attended a forestry school as an undergraduate in college. Assuming that foresters understand forest ecosystems is like assuming that a realtor who sells houses understands how to construct a building because they peddle homes. . .
Living with Fire: The USGS Southern California Wildfire Risk Project In a first of its kind research, the USGS has determined that the prescribed burns used extensively for 30 years in central and coastal California had 0% effectiveness in preventing wildfires. California's ecosystems are different than southeastern U.S., however, consider that Californians and our environment were subjected to an intensive 30 years of "prescribed" burning. The principles of ineffectiveness apply in the east as well, and there is no comprehensive research such as this one to evaluate the claims of the industry. Here is the USGS presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-SNFf0xM5g . In addition to the lack of effectiveness in fire prevention this study found that even this native fire adapted plant community suffered from the prescribed burning regime.
2. It is accepted among experts that prescribed burns and previous wildfires do not stop catastrophic fires in times of global warming and drought when they are most likely to occur. Anecdotally consider all of the wildfires occurring in the western U.S.
3. How much forest burning is required? The industry knows but does not discuss the fact with the public that prescribed burning theory requires burning the same site 2 to 3 times to achieve the state of reduced duff, leaves small diameter trees and lower story shrubs to suit their theories. When you realize that the lower story and other “fuel” will return to the same or greater levels within 9 years (USFS study) you will realize that the same area will have to burn repeatedly on an forever basis. Rhododendrons and laurel are exceptional tenacious and will grow back with twice the foliage when cut back to ground level.
4. The randomness of wildfire - Wildfire occurs randomly, at any given point 2-3% of the forest may be subjected to prescribed burning, chances are very low that an area will possibly be in a state in which it will reduce the effects of wildfire.
5. Prescribed burns can cause their own catastrophic fires - One recent example is the escaped prescribed burn in the Croatan National Forest in which the USFS planned to burn 1,500 acres, and instead created a catastrophic 21,000 acre 6 week wildfire.http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/11222775/
Public Forests Should be Carbon Reserves George Wuerthner, Wildlife News, June 12, 2018. One of the biggest impacts resulting from logging our forests that is largely ignored by public land management agencies is the contribution that timber harvest makes to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Increasingly it is clear that the greatest value of our public forests might be to end all thinning/logging and protect them as carbon reserves. Logging/thinning woodlands whether justified to reduce wildfires, “restore” forests, or merely to produce wood fiber for the timber industry causes a net loss of carbon to the forest ecosystem.
BLM Fuel Breaks “fuel” weeds, George Wuerthner, June 11, 2018. This past winter, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began preparing two Environmental Impact Statements to review the environmental consequences of creating a region-wide series of “fuel breaks” that will add thousands of miles of new linear pathways across the Great Basin portion of Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Utah. The goal of fuel breaks is to reduce large wildfires in sagebrush habitat. Unfortunately, the creation of a massive network of linear pathways in the sagebrush steppe likely will not preclude large fires and will have serious impacts on sagebrush ecosystems. Indeed, the BLM has admitted as much in a recent report where it concluded; “Despite the extensive use of fuel breaks in sagebrush landscapes, especially since the 1990s, the IRFMS-ASP points out that “no specific research within the sagebrush ecosystem has been conducted to evaluate their effectiveness” . . ..
Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes, William L. Baker, Ph.D., Island Press, 2012. Dr. Baker, the United States' foremost Fire Ecologist, "mak[es] the case that . . . the best approach is not to try to change or control fire but to learn to live with it. [He] explains how scientists reconstruct the history of fire in landscapes; elaborates on the particulars of fire under the historical range of variability in the Rockies; and considers the role of Euro-Americans in creating the landscapes and fire situations of today. In the end, the author argues that the most effective action is to rapidly limit and redesign people-nature interfaces to withstand fire, which he believes can be done in ways that are immediately beneficial to both nature and communities.
"Invasion Biology" & the myth of restoring "native" ecosystems https://gardeninggrannysgardenpages.blogspot.com We are being bombarded by information urging us to report and eradicate non-native species. People are urged to form groups of volunteers to remove invasive Dames Rocket or garlic mustard or Mute swans or whatever species is suddenly considered a menace to the “natural order”. . . . The rhetoric makes it seem that we are under siege from all directions and unless we remain vigilant against terrorist invasive species we are all doomed to an uncertain, perilous, and deprived future. . . . But science and research are indicating that a new species invading an area is seldom the sole cause of a native species extinction. . . .An invasive species may hold hope for the environment after a period of adjustment, to become healthy again. Many times the arrival and establishment of an invasive species makes the environment more diverse, attracting other native and non-native species rather than excluding them or causing a loss in diversity. . .
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben, Greystone Books, 2016
Living on Earth Interview with Peter Wohlleben, author of the groundbreaking book The Hidden Life of Trees. "Even when you make a thinning and just cutting one of the other trees and leave, for example, 50-percent of the trees untouched, this social network is destroyed. When you do it like this, you makes a tree changing from a social being to single. Those trees suffer. They don't get very old. For example, a Beech may grow as old as 400 years and when you make a thinning in such a forest, this Beech will die at around 200 years, nearly half the age which is natural."
Forest Fire Research Questions the Wisdom of Prescribed Burns, JIM ROBBINS, The New York Times, September 17, 2012
Experts Question Aspects of Prescribed Burning, Science Daily (web), Feb. 18, 2011. "Prescribed burning . . . may do more harm than good."
The influence of thinning on components of stand water balance in a ponderosa pine forest stand during and after extreme drought, Simonin et al. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 143 (2007) 266–276, 2007: "Thinning" increases overall evaporation in semi-arid ponderosa pine forests of the southwestern US. An important article because the Forest Service claims that its extreme "thinning," aka clearcutting, somehow increases moisture in forests. Not so, says science.
Factors Associated with the Severity of Intersecting Fires in Yosemite National Park, California, US, Van Wagtendonk et al. Fire Ecology Volume 8, Issue 1, 2012. Previously burned forests burn with higher severity.
Influence of Pre-Fire Tree Mortality on Fire Severity in Conifer Forests, Bond et al. The Open Forest Science Journal, 2009, 2, 41-47. Removal of dead trees does not reduce future fire severity, this study concludes.
"Piute Forestry" vs. Forest Fire Prevention, Aldo Leopold, 1920, Reprinted in Southwestern Magazine 2:12-13. PDF created for Sequoia and Kings Canyon Fire Information Cache Website. A beloved forefather of contemporary environmentalism argues vehemently against prescribed burning, then called "light burning." He points out that forests cannot thrive under "light burning" because 1. it destroys the seedlings necessary for regeneration, 2. it reduces the vitality of the forage, 3. it destroys the humus in the soil necessary for rapid tree growth, 4. by inflicting burn scars, it abnormally increases rot and increases resin that intensifies subsequent fires, and 5. it increases the destructive effects of wood-boring insects. All of these observations from 1920 have now been borne out by scientific study!
Mexican Spotted Owl Home Range and Habitat Use in Pine-Oak Forest: Implications for Forest Management, Forest Science, Vol. 45, No. 1, February 1999. Ganey et al. 1999. Endangered Mexican spotted owls need closed canopy forests to breed and survive. These forests are becoming increasingly rare with forest "management," suggesting that such forests warrant special protection, which may conflict with efforts to "restore more open conditions in ponderosa pine forests," aka burning and clearcutting.
Humans and Global Warming--Not "Overgrown" Forests-- are the Cause of Forest Fires
Behind Most Wildfires, a Person and a Spark: ‘We Bring Fire With Us’, Tim Arango, The New York Times, Aug. 20, 2018
Climate vs. logging in forest fire causes, George Wuerthner, The Redding, CA Record Searchlight, June 21, 2017.
The timber industry and the U.S. Forest Service aggressively market the idea that reducing fuels through logging/thinning programs will result in a significant decrease in acreage burned, firefighting costs and the number of high-severity fires. However, it is climate/weather, not fuels, that drive all large wildfires.
Climate Change Is Fueling Wildfires Nationwide, New Report Warns, KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS and NADJA POPOVICH, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2018.
What's The Leading Cause Of Wildfires In The U.S.? Humans, The Two-Way, February 27, 2017, Heard on NPR, All Things Considered. The latest research shows that nationwide, humans cause more than 8 in 10 [wildfires]— 84 percent.
Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States, Balch et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Public dialog and ongoing research have focused on increasing wildfire risk because of climate warming, overlooking the direct role that people play in igniting wildfires and increasing fire activity. Our analysis of two decades of government agency wildfire records highlights the fundamental role of human ignitions. Human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected by lightning fires, and were responsible for nearly half of all area burned. [And this study does not even take into account all of the human-ignited prescribed burns.!]
Twentieth-Century Fire Patterns on Forest Service Lands, McKelvey and Busse, Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project: Final report to Congress, vol. II, Assessments and scientific basis for management options. Davis: University of California, Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, 1996. Fire suppression had no effect on lightning fires during the twentieth century; 80% of fires are human-caused.
The Role of Forests in Mitigating Global Warming
How a Tree’s Breath Literally Cleans the Planet A new 3-minute video from NASA allows us to witness in brilliant color how trees scrub Earth's atmosphere clean of carbon pollutants.
Trees are our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change, Josh Gabbattis, The Independent, February 16 2019. Massive restoration of world’s forests would cancel out a decade of CO2 emissions, analysis suggests.
Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks, Luyssaert et al., Nature: International Journal of Science Old growth forests are carbon sinks. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The sequestered carbon dioxide is stored in live woody tissues and slowly decomposing organic matter in litter and soil. Old-growth forests therefore serve as a global carbon dioxide sink, but they are not protected by international treaties . . .
Can fuel-reduction treatments really increase forest carbon storage in the western US by reducing future fire emissions? Campbell et al., Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10(2):83-90 · March 2012 Can fuel-reduction treatments [prescribed burns] really increase forest carbon storage in the western US by reducing future fire emissions? These scientists found "little credible evidence," yet the Forest Service still uses this justification for igniting and clearing forests 17 years later. From the abstract: "It has been suggested that thinning trees and other fuel-reduction practices aimed at reducing the probability of high-severity forest fire are consistent with efforts to keep carbon (C) sequestered in terrestrial pools, and that such practices should therefore be rewarded rather than penalized in C-accounting schemes. By evaluating how fuel treatments, wildfire, and their interactions affect forest stocks across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, we conclude that this is extremely unlikely. Our review reveals high losses associated with fuel treatment, only modest differences in the combustive losses associated with high-severity fire and the low-severity fire that fuel treatment is meant to encourage, and a low likelihood that treated forests will be exposed to fire. Although fuel-reduction treatments may be necessary to restore historical functionality to fire suppressed ecosystems, we found little credible evidence that such efforts have the added benefit of increasing terrestrial stocks."
Inaccuracies in Forest Service Reconstructions of Fire History The Forest Service and entities that profit from clearcutting and prescribed burning would have us believe that low severity fires were historically more common, and that high severity fires were rare, even though the methods used to draw these conclusions have been thoroughly discredited. They use these erroneous claims to justify burning and logging as "forest restoration."
The problem with Tree Ring/Fire Scar studies, George Wuerthner, The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views, July 23, 2013. One of the cornerstones of current forest policy is the assumption that western forests are outside of their “normal” density and appearance or what is termed “historic variability” due a hundred years of mismanagement that included logging of old growth, fire suppression, and livestock grazing. This idea has been used to justify logging public lands to “restore” forests to their pre-management era appearance and resiliency. Due to this past mismanagement we are told that forests are “overgrown,” and ready to burn.
. . . .whether the current forest stand condition is that far from conditions that have occurred infrequently in the past is a matter of increasing debate. This is especially important because public land management agencies feel the pressure to DO something beyond waiting for nature to do what it always does to “restore” forest conditions. . .
Fire, fuels and restoration of ponderosa pine–Douglas fir forests in the Rocky Mountains, USA, Baker and Veblen, Journal of Biogeography 34(2):251 - 269, February 2007 The frequent, low-severity fire model used to justify prescribed burns is based in inaccurate science. Here's why.
Response to TNC on wildfires, George Wuerthner, The Wildlife News, April 26, 2019. ". . . western plant communities including Douglas fir, aspen, true firs, sagebrush, and juniper to name a few, were historically dominated by episodic high severity blazes. . . . Ironically the proposed solution, more logging and thinning, increases carbon discharges far more than wildfire, contributing to greater climate warming, which in turn spawns more blazes. The best way to reduce carbon emissions is to keep it in the forest by precluding logging/thinning. Furthermore, many studies find that “fuel reductions” aka thinning/logging do not appreciably reduce large fires, instead thinning or logging increases fire spread.
Ecology and Management of Fire-prone Forests of the Western United States Society for Conservation Biology Scientific Panel on Fire in Western U.S. Forests, Noss et al., Society for Conservation Biology Scientific Panel on Fire in Western U.S. Forests. Fire is a primary natural disturbance in most forests of western North America and has shaped their plant and animal communities for millions of years. . . However, many western forests have experienced shifts in wildfire regimes and forest structure following a century or more of resource use and management, with some past and present management activities lacking a scientific basis. Changes in wildfire and fuel management policies are needed to address social and environmental problems that have arisen as a result of these activities. Incorporation of current scientific knowledge into revised policies and practices is essential to insure that the productivity, biological diversity, and ecological values of western forests are sustained. . . .
Trends and causes of severity, size, and number of fires in northwestern California, USA Miller et al., Ecological Applications Vol. 22, No. 1, 2012. Fire size and acreage burned increased throughout the 20th century (when supposedly all fires were being suppressed)
Fire Probability, Fuel Treatment Effectiveness and Ecological Tradeoffs in Western U.S. Public Forests Jonathan J. Rhodes and William L. Baker, The Open Forest Science Journal, 2008, I, 1-7. "Fuel treatments," i.e., prescribed burns are damaging and ineffective. Fuel treatment effectiveness and non-treatment risks can be estimated from the probability of fire occurrence. Using extensive fire records for western US Forest Service lands, we estimate fuel treatments have a mean probability of 2.0-7.9% of encountering moderate- or high-severity fire during an assumed 20-year period of reduced fuels
New research shows that western dry forests were not uniform, open forests, as commonly thought, before widespread logging and grazing, but included both dense and open forests, as well as large high-intensity fires previously considered rare in these forests. The study used detailed analysis of records from land surveys, conducted in the late-1800s, to reconstruct forest structure over very large dry-forest landscapes, often dominated by ponderosa pine forests. Previous studies were hampered by the limitations inherent in tree-ring reconstructions from small, isolated field plots that may be unrepresentative of larger landscapes. The study. . . does not support the idea that frequent low-intensity fires historically prevented high-intensity fires in dry forests.
The Increasing Scale of Forest Service Burns and the Forest Service Plan to Destroy 95% of Trees on Public Lands
THE WHITE HOUSE'S HEALTHY FORESTS REPORT OF 2002. The secondparagraph says "Where 25 to 35 trees once grew on each acre of forest,now more than 500 trees are crowded together in unhealthy conditions."From 500 trees to 25 trees is a 95% reduction.http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/healthyforests/sect2.html
ARTICLE FROM THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN, JULY 2, 2012, quoting BillArmstrong, fuel specialist for the Santa Fe National Forest: “We have more … trees than we know what to do with, and they are the cause of many of the problems we face. We’re going to do everything we can to get rid of about 95 percent of them.”http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/jemez-mountains-tour-gives-hikers-view-of-fire-prevention-recovery/article_9a1a57d4-99b2-5d20-8e91-a5a451716e4a.html
PAGE FROM THE CITY OF SANTA FE'S WEBSITE, stating the plan "to restore tree density to natural fire regime levels (reduced from >1,000 trees per acre to 20-50 trees per acre). From 1000 trees to 50 trees is a 95% reduction .http://www.santafenm.gov/municipal_watershed_investment_plan THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
STATEMENT FOR THE 200,000-ACRE JEMEZ MOUNTAINS PROJECT, page 25, "Tree densities have increased 10-fold, from an average of 15-56 trees per acre to 500 trees per acre." From 500 trees to 15-56 trees is about a 95% reduction. http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/85311_FSPLT3_1616820.pdf
Health Risks of Prescribed Burns
Potassium Permanganate: UNIVAR's Material Safety Data Sheet Potassium permanganate and antifreeze are the primary active ingredients in the styrofoam "ping pong" spheres delivered by aerial firebombing and hand-held launchers to ignite prescribed burns and backburns. The spheres are delivered directly onto trees, soil, wildlife, streams, rivers, reservoirs, and lakes in the process of prescribed burn ignitions. The scale of the burns is often hundreds or thousands of acres, and these toxic materials are released into the air upon ignition, making smoke from prescribed burns much more toxic than smoke from a forest fire, which is itself highly toxic.
Excerpts: 1. EYE CONTACT Potassium Permanganate is damaging to eye tissue on contact. It may cause severe burns that result in damage to the eye.
2. SKIN CONTACT Contact of solutions at room temperature may be irritating to the skin, leaving brown stains. Concentrated solutions at elevated
3. INHALATION Acute inhalation toxicity data are not available. However, airborne concentrations of potassium permanganate in the form of dust or mist may cause damage to the respiratory tract.
4. INGESTION Potassium permanganate, if swallowed, may cause severe burns to mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach.
Section 3 Hazardous Ingredients MATERIAL OR COMPONENT CAS NO. EINECS % HAZARD DATA Potassium Permanganate 7722-64-7 231-760-3 >97.5% PEL/C 5 mg Mn per cubic meter of air TLV-TWA 0.2 mg Mn per cubic meter of air RISK PHRASES: 8 Contact with combustibles may case fire. 22 Harmful if swallowed.
Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term effects in the aquatic environment. SAFETY PHRASES: 60 This material and its container must be disposed of as hazardous waste. 61 Avoid releases to the environment. . . . Section 5 Fire Fighting Measures NEPA* HAZARD SIGNS Health Hazard 1 = Materials which under fire conditions would give off irritating combustion products. (less than 1 hour exposure) . . . Avoid inhalation and contact with eyes and skin. . . .ENVIRONMENTAL PRECAUTIONS: Do not flush into sanitary sewer system or surface water. If accidental release into the environment occurs, inform the responsible authorities. Keep the product away from drains, sewers, surface and ground water and soil. :008 2009-08-28 Annotation: combustible, organic, or easily oxidizable materials including antifreeze and hydraulic fluid. Section 8 Exposure Controls and Personal Protection RESPIRATORY PROTECTION: where overexposure to dust may occur, the use of an approved NIOSHMSHA dust respirator or an air supplied respirator is advised. . . . When involved in a fire, potassium permanganate may liberate corrosive fumes. . . . The product may be absorbed into the body by inhalation. Major effects of exposure: respiratory disorder. . . 4. MEDICAL CONDITIONS GENERALLY AGGRAVATED BY EXPOSURE Potassium permanganate solution will cause further irritation of tissue, open wounds, burns or mucous membranes. . . . .ENTRY TO THE ENVIRONMENT . . . . AQUATIC TOXICITY The toxicity data for potassium permanganate is given below: Rainbow trout, 96 hour LC50: 1.8 mg/L Bluegill sunfish, 96 hour LC50: 2.3 mg/L Milk fish (Chanos Chanos)/ 96 hour. . . . Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term effects in the aquatic environment. SAFETY PHRASES: 60 This material and its container must be disposed of as hazardous waste. 61 Avoid releases to the environment.
Hidden Health Costs of Forest Fires and Control Burns, by Marsha Honn, Ph.D., Physicians for Social Responsiblity, Environmental Health Policy Institute. An important study, in light of the fact that very little research has been done on the health effects of prescribed burns. Whether due to wildfires or “[prescribed] burns,” fires result in increased release of particulate matter (PM) that has a negative impact on human health. In addition, fires release greenhouse gases that make for a vicious cycle of rising temperatures and increasing wildfires. This problem is particularly severe in the Southwest, which is experiencing warming conditions greater than anywhere in the United States except Alaska.
Manganese Dioxide Toxicity Data Potassium permanganate is used to ignite prescribed burns and backfires, via aerial (helicopter) firebombing and handheld or boat-mounted launchers by the US Forest Service and its privatized burn contractors. Polymer spheres resembling ping-pong balls containing small amounts of permanganate are injected with ethylene glycol and they spontaneously ignite seconds later. This fact sheet provides toxicity data of manganese dioxide, the waste product of potassium permanganate.
Gaseous and Particulate Emissions from Prescribed Burning in Georgia, Environmental Science and Technology, 2005, 39, 9049-9056
Forest Service use of Toxic Herbicides to "Restore" Forests
A U.S. Forest Service Herbicide Plan Opposed by Coalition of Environmentalists. Albuquerque Journal/Wild Earth Guardians Press Release, Jan. 11, 2006
Field Guide for Managing Leafy Spurge in the Southwest One of many Forest Service guides to the regular planned use of toxic pesticides on a landscape scale. ". . . Continuous aggressive management measures are needed . . . . Herbicide spraying will reduce leafy spurge populations, but followup spot spraying should always be anticipated for a minimum of several years .. . ."
The Fire Industrial Complex Burning, clearcutting, firefighting, and profit. Follow the money.
July 25, 2015, Santa Fe NewMexican. Follow the money! Prescribed burning is about lucrative private contracts, not forest health or human safety. By Arthur Firstenberg, Fire Industrial Complex researcher and member of Once A Forest.
A look inside the lucrative private contracting that drives the "Fire Industrial Complex."
Private Firefighters' Role Growing, John Coté, SFGate, July 27, 2008. "We call it the fire industrial complex," said Timothy Ingalsbee, a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter and now executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, a nonprofit in Eugene, Ore., dedicated to environmentally sound fire management. "It's big business, and business is booming. Critics say contracting out traditionally public functions - a practice that in the Iraq war has led to privately organized security details and troop support services - shifts accountability, can be more expensive and erodes people's confidence in government."What's worrying about private firefighters is that there are growing portions of the economy that are banking on, gambling on, that there are going to be more and more natural disasters," said Naomi Klein, author of the book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."
Prescribed Burns Out of Control
U.S. Takes Blame in Los Alamos Fire, Which Still Burns, Michael Janofsky, The New York Times, May 19, 2000
Cerro Grande fire, 10 years ago today, Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today May 10, 2010. On May 10, 2000, a fire that began as a prescribed fire in Bandalier National Monument burned into Los Alamos, New Mexico. The towns of Los Alamos and White Rock were in the fire’s path and more than 18,000 residents were evacuated. By the end of the day on May 10, the fire had burned 18,000 acres, destroyed 235 homes, and damaged many other structures. The fire also spread towards the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and although fires spotted onto the facility’s lands, all major structures were secured and no releases of radiation occurred. The Cerro Grande Fire was the largest, most destructive wildfire that New Mexico has ever known. The fire swept across 47,000 forested acres in Bandelier National Monument, the Santa Fe National Forest, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County, and the Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Indian Reservations, causing about $ 1 billion in property damage. Over 280 homes were destroyed or damaged and 40 Laboratory structures burned.
The Dog Head Fire burned more than 18,000 acres and twelve homes on the historic Chilili Land Grant in New Mexico, USA, June - July 2016. The US Forest Service was slow to admit that its contractors started the fire with sparks from a masticator deforestation machine and that it then ordered workers not to suppress the fire:
Climate Impacts on Escaped Prescribed Fire Occurrence in California and Nevada, Kolden 2005: Master's thesis on escaped prescribed burns (they rose from zero per year in 1970 to 900 per year in 2002 in California and Nevada alone)
Prescribed Burns Getting Out Of Control Not Unheard Of: At Least 5 Wildfires In Colorado Last Year Started As Planned Burns, TheDenverChannel.com, Mar 28, 2012
A citizen coalition united in calling for a comprehensive environmental impact study prior to any tree cutting and burning on forested public lands above Santa Fe. This environmental review must: first, recognize the lawful right of citizens to be fully informed participants in managing their lands; second, must evaluate a full range of alternatives, including those based on scientific opinion opposed to extensive vegetation clearing; and third disclose and evaluate all cumulative impacts on air quality from prescribed burning, the effects of mechanical treatments on water quality, soils and wildlife including stream sedimentation, soil erosion, displacement of wildlife, habitat modification and the spread of invasive weed species.
Think the Forest Service is serving the interests of forests and making ethical, rather than political decisions? Think again.
The purpose of this blog is to inform the San Francisco Bay Area of the destruction of trees and to confront the rationale for their destruction. Although we have preferences, we like all trees and we don’t like to see any healthy tree destroyed. Unfortunately, others believe their preference for certain trees justifies the destruction of those they don’t like. Packed with science and insightful articles about the myth of "invasive species."
Prescribedburns.com Arizona Citizen activist website. "During the 1950's and 1960.s everyone thought that the nuclear bomb tests in Nevada were a good idea until people begin dying from radiation poisoning. Today, we face a similar crisis. The U.S. Forest Service has convinced some people that prescribed burns and managed wildfires are safe methods of maintaining forest health when they are actually two of the deadliest acts known to mankind. The burns produce thousands of toxic air pollutants. . ."
Judge halts BLM [prescribed burn]project in Elkhorns, Helena Montana Independent Record, Mar 14, 2019
Feb 5, 2018 - Sam Hitt, a veteran Santa Fe environmentalist, serves as president of a group called the Santa Fe Forest Coalition that opposes the ...
Lawsuit: Hyde Park tree-thinning plan needs more study Ben Neary, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 24, 2018
May 24, 2018 - Sam Hitt, a veteran Santa Fe environmentalist and founder of Wild Watershed, said Thursday that the Forest Service's approach would remove ...
Aug 28, 2018 “That will stop any activity this fall,” said Wild Watershed Director Sam Hitt. “Any burning or tree cutting or road construction.” The groups, along ...
Insult to injury—an ecologist’s reasoning, Sam Hitt, Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 7, 2018
July 25, 2015, Santa Fe New Mexican. Follow the money! Prescribed burning is about lucrative private contracts, not forest health or human safety. By Arthur Firstenberg, Fire Industrial Complex researcher and member of Once A Forest.
Benefits of Burning Unproven, Jan Boyer, Once a Forest Co-Founder, Albuquerque Journal, Nov 6, 2011. The Forest Service has burned 35000 acres in New Mexico so far this year. They plan to burn 2900. Burning forests in New Mexico releases DDE, DDT, and mercury. One fourth ...