Restoring California’s forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment

A mixed-conifer forest in the central Sierra Nevada after restoration, with unthinned forest in the background. Roger Bales, CC BY-ND

Roger Bales, University of California, Merced and Martha Conklin, University of California, Merced

As California contends with its worst wildfire season in history, it’s more evident than ever that land management practices in the state’s forested mountains need major changes.

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

Thinned and unthinned forest.
Treated forest (left) and untreated forest (right), central Sierra Nevada. Note the prevalence of small trees and higher density of stems on the right, and the openings between trees on the left. Martha Conklin, CC BY-ND

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state agencies and organizations that have roles to play in managing forests.

However, some of these groups are forming local partnerships to work with land managers and develop innovative financing strategies. We see these partnerships as key to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration.

Dry, crowded forests

Many conifer forests in the western United States contain too many trees, packed too closely together. This crowding is a result of past management practices that suppressed wildfires and prioritized timber harvesting. In recent years, climate warming, accumulation of dead wood on the forest floor and a buildup of small trees – which serve as “ladder fuels,” moving fire from the forest floor up into the canopy – have led to hotter, larger wildfires.

Under contemporary conditions, trees in California’s forests experience increased competition for water. The exceptionally warm 2011-2015 California drought contributed to the death of over 100 million trees. As the forest’s water demand exceeded the amount available during the drought, water-stressed trees succumbed to insect attacks.

Funding is a significant barrier to scaling up treatments. Nearly half of the Forest Service’s annual budget is spent on fighting wildfires, which is important for protecting communities and other built infrastructure. But this means the agency can restore only a fraction of the acres that need treatment each year.

Forest in mountainous area encroaching close to homes.
Overstocked forests, particularly around communities like this one in the northern Sierra Nevada, pose a high risk of high-severity wildfire. Martha Conklin, CC BY-ND

The benefits of restoration

Forest restoration provides many benefits in addition to reducing the risk of high-severity wildfires. It reduces tree deaths and provides a foundation for sustaining carbon stored in trees and soil. Removing trees reduces water use in the forest, making more water available for the remaining trees, for in-stream flows and for food production and urban areas downstream.

Increased streamflow also enhances electricity generation from hydropower plants, offsetting use of fossil fuels to produce electricity and contributing to state greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.

Restoring forests reduces the erosion that often follows wildfires when rain loosens exposed soil, damaging roads, power lines and ecosystems and depositing sediments in reservoirs. And it improves rural mountain economies by supporting local jobs. The French Meadows Forest Restoration Project is an innovative public-private partnership to improve watershed health and restore the landscape’s historic fire regime.

Mountain headwater forests are an integral part of California’s water infrastructure. They store winter snow and rain and release moisture slowly to rivers for downstream irrigation and municipal supplies during the state’s dry summers. That’s why supporting forest restoration is also gaining traction with downstream water and hydropower providers.

Residents across the western U.S. had weeks of unhealthy air this summer owing to smoke from wildfires. Short of curbing climate change that is making forests more flammable, reducing fuels is the best tool to lower smoke emissions.

Like many others, we both find that spending time in mountain conifer forests is a great source of renewal. We believe that many people who live in, visit, or wish to sustain healthy mountain forests would be willing to support public investments in forest restoration.

Finding ways to monetize the value of less obvious benefits, such as ecological health and biodiversity, could help drive that investment.

Expanding partnerships

What’s the best way to create more public-private partnerships to scale up forest restoration? Two current ventures in the American and Yuba river basins of the central Sierra Nevada offer lessons to build on.

First, it takes a dozen or more dedicated partners to plan, fund and carry out these projects. Under contracts called stewardship agreements, the Forest Service – which owns the land – does the environmental assessment and provides oversight. Project partners plan, carry out and finance forest treatments.

Second, depending on what kind of treatment they use, restoration can cost from US$700 to $4,000 per acre. This funding may come from state grants, foundation grants and loans, timber revenue or local agency contributions. Local agencies may repay loans with water and hydropower revenues.

Third, a major restoration project may stretch over five to 10 years and involve water agencies, county governments, the Forest Service, nongovernmental organizations, state agencies and the University of California.

Doing a project right involves much more than just cutting trees. From our experience, there are three key ingredients: accurate data for planning restoration treatments; credible methods for projecting and verifying the benefits that these treatments will produce; and incentives to bring parties together for the duration of the project.

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Building public support

Current projects in California have relied heavily on state grants. Going forward, the state will need more funding sources to match the goal in an August 2020 Shared Stewardship agreement in which California and the Forest Service set a target of treating 1 million acres per year for 10 years.

At even $1000 per acre, treating 1 million acres will cost $1 billion per year. This figure does not include repeating treatments as forests regrow, which will be required in many areas to eventually restore a natural fire regime.

California is increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration, but needs to step up this effort considerably. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Executive Order to use California land to fight climate change, conserve biodiversity and boost climate resilience signals a strong intent, but meeting this multi-billion-dollar challenge will require more partners. We also see an important role for organizations working to educate and engage larger segments of the public through news stories, films, social media and agency outreach.

A warming climate is intensifying risks to forests that are already stressed by wildfires, drought and pests. Sustaining California’s iconic mountain forests requires acknowledging the multiple values they provide, and including the many groups who benefit from them in finding and implementing solutions.

Roger Bales, Distinguished Professor of Engineering, University of California, Merced and Martha Conklin, Professor of Engineering, University of California, Merced

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 10:14 am

A healthy forest is a patch work of mature trees and areas that have bean cleared either by fire or logging. When the Greenies mad logging impossible in our westerns forest the frequency of fire increased. There is money to be made in logging, timber sales could offset some of the management cost. Paper production should also come back, trees from thinning operation make good pulp.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 10:34 am

Good place to start right now would be to enable salvage logging. Somehow, keep the greenshirts from creating delays until decay leaves nothing left to salvage.

Reply to  Juan Slayton
October 18, 2020 11:50 am

Yes, rather than seeking “innovative funding” for more bureaucratic ineptitude, it would be better to allow controlled logging and get those with an interest in recovering raw material in with the natural incentive to do the work.

What needs “restoring” in common sense, not more badly conceived ideas from bureaucrats who’ve never been near a forest in their lives inventing lots of new rules which, we know from experience, will be found, after another decade of failure and billions of taxpayer money, to not have the expected outcome.

Reply to  Greg
October 18, 2020 9:41 pm

Thank you Greg, short paragraphs but excellent suggestions that are logical and tried and true methods to manage forests.

What is needed is proper forest management that is largely self-funding. Scientifically planned logging can pay for itself. Properly thinned forests (as part of the scientifically based forest management practices) reduce the stunted trees and shrubs that lead to more often and more damaging fires.
As you stated “restoring” common sense and using tried and true forest management practices can accomplished the thinning and brush management). It does not help to let urban bureaucrats trained as administrators, climate change “specialists”, or environmental lawyers make the rules and dodge their responsibilities for accountability when catastrophic forest fires occur.

Juan’s suggestion for salvage logging is also excellent and should already be underway.

My fear is that the federal government is made responsible for state and local bad forest management. And the same thing happens again in a few years or decades because state and local governments had no responsibility nor any learning from these catastrophic fires.
California and its people and governments must “restore” their common sense and responsibilities.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Juan Slayton
October 18, 2020 1:55 pm

A local logger (east slope of the Cascades in Washington State) gets contracts for salvage. We had a load (38,000) pounds of scorched logs delivered. Some of this we have used for firewood. We hired a person with a portable bandsaw – he cut a bunch of rails and posts for us.

Local mills have shut down and he has to carry logs 110 miles for the smaller logs, and down into Oregon for the larger (more valuable) trees.

nothing left to salvage

As you imply, that happens fast, relatively speaking, with fire damaged trees.
US Forest Service safety folks sent posters to those that work near damaged trees. (I’ve volunteered with Washington Trails Association; building and maintaining trails in the Cascade Mountains.) Poster advises to skip sections and notify the local Ranger District if trail work needs doing adjacent to fire damaged trees.

Poems of Our Climate
Reply to  Juan Slayton
October 19, 2020 9:01 am

Trees are the only authentic “renewable.” Well, there’s water

Reply to  Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 10:46 am

Hmm…they meant well, but I remember hearing a proverb somewhere about good intentions.

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Rocketscientist
October 18, 2020 11:59 am

As in what road they are the specified pavement for?
When I was running asphalt plants I always got nervous when I saw those being hauled in for stockpile. 😉 😉

Reply to  Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 11:24 am

Absolutely. Canada doesn’t have to spend a bundle on forest management because it has sustainable logging. link

Reply to  commieBob
October 18, 2020 11:54 am

Exactly, the less bureaucrats involved the better.

Looking at the head image, there seems to be an awful lot of dead fuel on the presumably “restored” forest floor there.

Reply to  commieBob
October 18, 2020 11:55 am

Looks like they cut down half the trees , shredded them and left the wood in place so serve as fuel for the next so-called “climate change driven” forest fire.

Bruce Ranta
Reply to  commieBob
October 18, 2020 6:25 pm

Don’t be smug. I worked decades in the forest products industry in Canada and it is not a wonderful example of sustainable forest management by any measure. In Ontario, it’s been cool and wet in the near north for years, but when we return to a hot and dry cycle, the forest will go up like a torch. It can’t be stopped. The best we can do is try and have forests around our communities that are fire resistent; no forest is fire proof. There will be years of scary forest fires. And some years, often many, will be nice and calm.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 6:04 pm

Yes indeed Mark. In Australia a few decades ago when you could cover hundreds of miles without coming out of zoned forestry industry country on your trail bike and it was a thriving industry, forests were managed for wildfire because they were a vital asset to the people involved.

But the hippies, greenies and tree-changers moved in who all think more trees are better and now most of those zoned forestry areas no longer exist.

Neither does the industry or the wildfire protection that it provided.

Even though timber is still in huge demand, and there is more of it than ever, it would be nearly impossible to re-establish that industry.

But that is what’s needed.

Steven F
Reply to  Mark A Luhman
October 18, 2020 9:01 pm

The problem with logging in the mountains is that you need to make a road to get to the trees to be logged. In the 70’s the forest service would build the roads for at o cost to loggers. but to to the cost the forest service stopped building and maintaining the roads. So now the loggers had to pay make the road to get to the forest. Unfortunately the cost of the road often is greater than the value of the forest to be logged. Today much of the lumber used is farmed on private property (tree farms).

What is also not mention is the total cost to treat the 33 million acres in California alone is in the trillions of dollars And also there is a lot of forest in oregon washington idaho, wyoming, montana and colorado.

overall controlled burns and logging alone cannot solve this problem in any reasonable time frame.

Mike McHenry
October 18, 2020 10:32 am

Some time ago I tried searching the digitized historic NY Times for “California” “drought” “fires” the period 1920 to 1980. I got too many hits to investigate them all. I was struck by a drought 1947-1948 I recall. It started in April of 1947 and northern CA didn’t get rain until February of 1948. The south wasn’t until late March. No mention of fires , but a big concern for crops. One big difference between then and now is population. About 10 million then and 40 million now

October 18, 2020 10:36 am

Simple, go full gulag, assign one acre to each resident to clean out all the underbrush and deadwood off that one acre. Not tax deductible, just their civic duty, $1000 fine if they don’t do it. There, problem solved. /s

Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 18, 2020 11:24 am

Gulags are illegal. Besides, training that mob to do an acceptable job, in addition to finding each person’s acre and the logistics of getting them there and back, would be the biggest debacle in human history.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 18, 2020 11:26 am

Well on the Gulag part California is already there with Gov Nuisance’s lockdown orders in telling people to stay home, unless they are going to BLM-Antifa led protest.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 18, 2020 11:47 am

Read the Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn if you want to see what a gulag is all about. California isn’t even close, not by a burned forest mile.

Joel O'Bryan
October 18, 2020 10:54 am

All those MJ grow operators in the National Forests won’t be happy.

Matthew Sykes
October 18, 2020 10:55 am

What the ****? Just let nature do what it wants to do. Cheap, effective, and 100% natural. Then go in and make fire breaks. If you want to STOP nature doing what it wants to do….

Pryophytes, plants adapted to NEED fire to reproduce.

October 18, 2020 10:56 am

The money to do great projects does not exist in cash, or assets in California. In the post Covid shutdown devastated economy borrowing money by already indebted governments is going to become very different, very soon.

Now on top of all this … toss in the probability growing (in tiny increments every day) of a major seismic event along the west coast, and / or west and north west coasts …

October 18, 2020 10:58 am

More unintended consequences from the Ecoloonies that they won’t have to answer for. Same will happen with AGW but the time to realize the truth and the damage done to prove them wrong will cost billions if not trillions and cause undue hardship. Do they care? Not when when the means justifies the end.

Steve Case
October 18, 2020 11:43 am

In recent years,
climate warming,
accumulation of dead wood on the forest floor
buildup of small trees

have led to hotter, larger wildfires.

Which one of those three items do you think the liberals will work on?

… climate change that is making forests more flammable,… bullshit

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Executive Order to use California land to fight climate change, conserve biodiversity and boost climate resilience signals a strong intent,

Climate Change is listed first

We also see an important role for organizations working to educate and engage larger segments of the public through news stories, films, social media and agency outreach.

Oh yes we really need the propaganda mills to tell us how to think. Maybe re-education camps will work

Peta of Newark
October 18, 2020 12:03 pm

Good frigging grief – How can *anybody* describe that scrawny stand of sad & desolate trees as “A Forest”

We are in sooooo much trouble here, we really are

1) If you wanna see a Proper Forest, take yourself off to the Scottish Borders, just north of my old hunting ground. Look at/for Kielder Forest or maybe Kershope. Use Google Street-view?

*There* is a very substantial stand of (mostly) conifers – see how dense the forest and It Goes Not Burn.

To properly experience it, you need a car with the window down and a sunny warm day.
As you get close(<3miles) you'll feel chill. Hairs on your arms will stand up.
Get closer and you'll say "Oh rats, the weather changing, sun's going in and its getting cloudy. Shame, *such* a nice day it was.

But once any trees actually come into view, you'll notice that The Cloud is very low and hanging directly over the trees.
That's why they don't burn. As per A Rainforest, they make their own weather/climate. (Am not really asking but, What Is The Difference?)

2) That paltry piece of pi55 poor waste land in the photo is nearly identical to the wholly misnamed New Forest in Southern England.
The New Forest is a glimpse of hell – it is a desert.
Yet it is soooo carefully managed and guarded = regarded as some sort of National Treasure.

Yes. it might just be yet bizarrely, just literally over the boundary fence, is a spectacularly verdant landscape.
There is No Life in the New Forest. I spent the night in there twice – the silence hurts your ears. It really does. No birds, no critters, no nothing except for the ponies – which have learned to move perfectly silently except when they stand on a twig. Totally creepy. Totally desert and exactly what's in that supposed Californian Forest

3) This really is a Dumb Question but – why is your Cali forest mostly conifers?
(Didya know, you can get 2 gallons of perfectly good diesel substitute (Turpentine) out of a middling sized conifir every year WITHOUT cutting it down or even really harming it?)
Wonder if that's why they burn so well.

No matter, really serious question – What was there (lets say) 2,000 years ago – OR – the time when native indigenous folks started cutting/burning so as to make grassland to attract large herbivores for their food?

Surely we all know that 'Fir Trees' grow really fast and so would become invasive weeds if deciduous forest was being cut/burned.

Anyone who looks at my ravings here will know what I'm gonna say next= Soil Erosion.
Because that's wha'ts in the photo, its describes all of Australia perfectly.
Relentless tree clearance/burning over maybe 10's of millennia have very effectively 'burned the soil

If you want that haha forest to stop burning, by all means help it on its way – make a new Sahara
If you REALLY wanna stop it burning, remineralise the soil under it. get it growing thick, impenetrable and evergreen. Then it will create it own weather and look after itself.
And you also if you can actually, just for once, keep those pyromaniacal little fingers away from matchboxes

So, 33 million acres is a vast expensive undertaking.
Yet US farmers quite happily turn over 90+ million acres *just* to grow corn, most of which is effectively burned anyway/also
Surely, turning over 30 million acres just once every (say) 30 years will be a walk in the park for them.

Otherwise, our obsession with burning stuff will be The End of us – as it killed *every* previous attempt at 'civilization'

Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 18, 2020 1:37 pm

Nope, grasslands exist naturally in areas with low, seasonal precipitation. Trees need a source of moisture year round, grasses don’t. Grass grows in the wet spring, dies in the dry summer, and repeats the cycle the following year. When a tree dies from drought it doesn’t come back. Remineralization isn’t going to turn a desert or a grassland into a rain forest. How do we know? When humans irrigate trees planted in their desert or grassland landscapes they grow without added minerals. The fact is that topography and weather patterns are the main determinant of what’s a grassland and what’s a forest NOT soil mineral content.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Meab
October 18, 2020 2:42 pm

Prairie grass in the central plains can have roots that go 8 ft deep or more in order to survive in a semi-arid desert. I don’t know of too many trees that do that.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 18, 2020 6:17 pm

Sorry Peta, but you are way off with your solution for preventing wildfire by allowing forests to grow “thick, impenetrable and evergreen.”

When you get prolonged dry spells in country like California and Australia, and they have occurred forever, even swamp palm forests will burn uncontrollably.

Reply to  spangled drongo
October 18, 2020 7:09 pm

I agree, there is no way to compare the Scottish climate to that of Australia. Scotland does not experience the extreme extended periods of heat that we do in Australia, and they get consistent rainfall.

We live in such a vast continent and whether or not the forest is thick and green depends on what part of Australia you’re talking about and how much rainfall there is annually. Even the heavily wooded areas dry out in many parts of the country, and when they do they’re going to burn. And they will burn more fiercely than light woodland.

Lots of timber, dry hot weather and strong winds equate to fire. Reduce the fuel.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 18, 2020 9:16 pm

Peta and others
I am generally in agreement with Peta.
But we must remember what is our goal.
1. Maintain the forest exactly as it was. Keeping the exact same mix of flora and fauna.
2. Saving human lives and assets.
Obviously, we must consider both.
The problem is environmentalists only want 1 above.

Forests far away can be left alone. If a fire starts from a lightning strike, so be it.
The percentage burned will be the same as it always was. The percentage burned will probably match the tolerable return period for that forest anyway.
The forests closer to civilisation need to be treated differently. The level of clearing should be related more to reducing the risk to the community than sustaining the forest in its ideal “ environmental” condition.

Whether Scotland, Australia or California, individual risk assessment needs to be carried out for each forest.
I believe this has been successfully done for decades.
It’s just environmentalists will NOT compromise.

Rich Davis
October 18, 2020 12:34 pm

So what they’re saying, without daring to come straight out with it, is that all the eco-loon restrictions of the past four or five decades have been the source of the current crisis. Suppressing small fires, banning most logging operations to “save the spotted owl”, the whole agenda. A natural forest would have burnt away underbrush before it reached the dangerous level it has reached.

As expected from any California academic, the solution is make-work government jobs programs that cost taxpayers a billion dollars a year, rather than just letting private enterprise utilize the forest as a productive natural resource that could potentially fund other conservation efforts. Gaia forbid that some eeeevil capitalist makes a profit solving a problem.

Reply to  Rich Davis
October 18, 2020 3:44 pm

“restoration can cost from US$700 to $4,000 per acre.”

Gross logging revenue is $2,000 to $40,000/acre.

Net logging revenue ranges from negative$ to positive$ on public lands, depending on the crap involved. Get rid of the crap and revenue would be positive$.

The short-sighted, self-centered, selfish, eco-loons will never accept a reasonable solution because their lifespan is less than that of the forest. They need a solution that they can be a part of, in their selfish (relatively) short life. Otherwise, what was the point of their lives … what difference did they make in the world? Selfish, greedy, self-centered, but above all else self-deluded, in thinking that they are working for the greater good.

Mike Dubrasich
October 18, 2020 2:23 pm

Fascinating to read what engineers have to say about forestry. It’s not an engineering problem, but nice try.

To “restore” means to bring back to original condition. In the case of forests the original condition is that extant for thousands of years prior to Euro-Americans supplanting the indigenous natives. Much research has been done that describes those conditions: open and park-like forests tended with frequent underburning.

To achieve true restoration, and to make forests resilient to fire, trees must be widely spaced so that crowns do not touch. Large tree crowns are 30 feet wide or more. Add another 20 feet for spacing and this means tree trunks (stems, boles) must be at least 50 feet apart. That computes to 2500 sqft per tree, or 17 trees per acre.

As a rhyming rule of thumb when it comes to trees per acre in a restored forest: twenty is plenty, nine is fine, and five will thrive and stay alive. Aboriginal forests rarely had more than five trees per acre.

The pictures show post-thinning forests with crowns touching, at densities I eyeball estimate at 90-150 stems per acre. That density won’t stop a crown fire nor cause it to go to ground. Those forests can’t be safely underburned. It’s not similar to aboriginal densities.

Thinning unmanaged forests down to the very largest 20 trees per acre would return more than enough money to pay for the thinning, clean up, and future maintenance underburning. In most cases more than half the merchantable volume must be removed, and in some cases as much as 90%. It’s a profitable stewardship exercise.

More importantly, it will stop catastrophic fires and restore the human-forest relationship. The enormous losses will end [Note that recent fires in CA and OR destroyed over $200 billion in timber value alone, the most costly disaster in US history]. Restoration will also put people back on the land in a stewardship capacity, tending and caring for the natural world. It is our birthright and inherent responsibility to be caretakers of the planet.

October 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Our current situation was predictable and guaranteed 40 years ago, and unless we can get immediate agreement between environmental groups and those would finance a reconstituted forest products industry to quickly support partial cutting and thinning on state and federal lands, the problem will only get worst, and at an exponential rate. As a acquisitions forester for Boise Cascade in Eastern Oregon, I watched the environmental groups annihilate our industry. Most of the timber that we processed came from federal timber sales. For just a few hundred dollars the Sierra Club and others could file suit and stop sales which they did with wild abandon. Seeing the trend, I left forestry.

By wiping out a vast majority of the forest products industry we eliminated at least 650,000 jobs that paid people with limited educations very attractive wages, eliminated the federal in-lieupayments to local counties and school districts, and with the cessation of commercial thinning allowed our forest to continue to grow, many areas to the point of stagnation and with the resultant insect and disease problems. The USFS still conducts an inventory every decade showing we now have 60% more merchantability timber than we had in 1953.

Currently, we are importing $20 billion worth of forest products while we let our forests burn. It makes no sense.

As pointed out in other posts, relying on precommercial thinning alone would break us financially. Ironically, after the numerous partial-cutting sales I was involved were completed we left feeling so proud of the fact that our actions had left the forest in a much healthier, more vibrant condition that increased future growth rates and had also reduced the potential for insect and disease issues.

The forest fire problem can be solved, add good paying jobs to our economy, increase revenues to counties and school districts, but defraying the cost without some commercial logging is required which entail the building of new mills, because so much of our capacity has been eliminated in the past 40 years.
Sorry, there is no other way.

John Sandhofner
October 18, 2020 3:04 pm

“This crowding is a result of past management practices that suppressed wildfires and prioritized timber harvesting.” The USFS has not had timber harvesting as a priority for decades- since the spotted owl debacle. Timber harvesting clears out the under growth. The spotted owl policy, which has since been shown to be a hoax, has never been rescinded and still controls how the forests are managed. There is no question these fires in northern CA are a direct result of poor (in truth, non-existent) forest management all thanks to the environmentalist applying wishful, political ideals.

Reply to  John Sandhofner
October 18, 2020 4:50 pm

The spotted owl is being killed by the barred owl, LOL. The ‘managers’ now want to shotgun the barred owls. You can’t make this stuff up as the saying goes.

And the next debacle, fires in the BLM areas because of the sage grouse nonsense.

October 18, 2020 3:07 pm

How bad are the fire seasons anyway?
Arguably the two most fire prone states in the world are Victoria, Australia and California, USA.
California 2020
About 4 of 33 million acres or 12%

Victoria 2020
About 3.75 of 22 million acres or 14%
After the 2009 bushfire Royal Commission it was recommended that fuel reduction be about 5% per annum.
But since then only 1-3% have been burned annually.
Most importantly, the majority of area that burnt in Victoria was Far East Gippsland. An area that had been scheduled for fuel reduction for years but aggressively opposed by greenies.

My observation is that actual forest management experts know what they are doing BUT are hampered by the environmentalists.

Dodgy Geezer
October 18, 2020 3:16 pm

Now is a better time to be born than the 1950s. And 1950 was a better time to be born than 1900.

Every generation has a better life than their parents, so long as humans keep improving their living conditions. Unfortunately, There is a move to reduce them back to the 1500s…

October 18, 2020 6:04 pm

Interesting solar panel fire case:

I wonder what changes may be in store for future insurance coverage for wind and solar.

Bruce Ranta
October 18, 2020 6:26 pm

Don’t be smug. I worked decades in the forest products industry in Canada and it is not a wonderful example of sustainable forest management by any measure. In Ontario, it’s been cool and wet in the near north for years, but when we return to a hot and dry cycle, the forest will go up like a torch. It can’t be stopped. The best we can do is try and have forests around our communities that are fire resistent; no forest is fire proof. There will be years of scary forest fires. And some years, often many, will be nice and calm.

October 18, 2020 7:46 pm

I’ve commented on this several times. The NOAA DATA does NOT support CA “climate change” as other than a trivial factor in forest fires.
No change in yearly precipitation since 1930.

And a trivial 0.2 deg F per decade in yearly maximum temperatures.

All complete B.S. Spread the word.

William Haas
October 18, 2020 10:22 pm

The State of California cannot afford to do anything new. The people of California are already over taxed. But there is no need to worry because all of California’s problems will be solved as soon at the high speed rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield has been completed.

Curious George
Reply to  William Haas
October 19, 2020 8:03 am

Do we know how much money did California spend in the last 2 years on wildfire prevention, and how much on the train to nowhere?

Doc Chuck
October 18, 2020 11:53 pm

If we Californians can’t bring ourselves to harvest some of our native arboreal boon, we may be left to temper the richly cultivated anguish over recent natural and unnatural ignitions of woodlands during this so-called unprecedented CO2 driven ‘permanent drought’ in our coastal location bridging the northwest rain forests and those arid deserts to our east and south with a statewide average yearly temperature lately about 3 degrees above the 58 F. longer term average that some of us have moved to southern California to enjoy the fuller warmth of in our latter years. And a historical perspective for those of us who weren’t born yesterday might well include an astonishing 10 fold greater average of 145 million acres burned annually across the continental U.S. over the 3 colder pre-industrial century years of 1500-1800 (the ‘little ice age’) estimated in 2001 by a Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy report, compared to the average yearly 14 million acres over this past warmer century — partially attributable to agricultural land usage, managed land use fragmentation, urbanization, and enhanced fire suppression capabilities. And indeed even during this most recent century the trend in national wildfire acreage has been a decline of over 80% since the drought ridden 1930s (portrayed in the American great plains ‘dust bowl’ of that time by author John Steinbeck). Note for further comparison that so far this year about 8 million U.S. acres have burned. But further, those fire scarred very old giant sequoia trees in our southern Sierra Nevada mountains not only testify that such fires have been commonplace over many centuries but that in those fire adapted ecosystems their seeds require fire to promote germination!

Gene Selkov
October 19, 2020 6:07 am

Worst wildfire season in history? When did that history start?

Reply to  Gene Selkov
October 19, 2020 6:40 am

Knowing the Left very well … that “history” started the year after the last even bigger wildfire.

Matt Skaggs
October 19, 2020 9:42 am

The devastation in California has occurred primarily in chaparral and oak savannah. So none of this matters much.

Curious George
Reply to  Matt Skaggs
October 19, 2020 1:00 pm

Link, please.

Reply to  Matt Skaggs
October 19, 2020 2:17 pm

Matt Skaggs says :
“The devastation in California has occurred primarily in chaparral and oak savannah. So none of this matters much.”
I’m no forester, but anything made of “solid oak” is very darned expensive. If any can be salvaged, it’s likely worth it.

abinico warez
October 19, 2020 3:02 pm

Billions of dollars intended for forest management were redirected at Gov Newsom’s orders to make sure illegals were comfortable staying at 4 star hotels.

October 19, 2020 3:03 pm

We really need to allow for natural forest succession instead of trying to manage the mature forest. Fire is a natural part of that process. Years of conifer growth results in very low soil pH so a good fire does a great job to put the ash in place to bring the pH back up and allow for a much more diverse growth.

When folks artificially add trees back in, we are fighting nature. A stand of trees uses much more water than the forbs and grasses that would persist in the years and decades following a fire. For the greens that stress about environmental carbon loading, grasses store almost 2/3rds of their carbon below ground while trees are 2/3rds above. In a hot fire, a tree stand liberates all above-ground carbon, plus the upper few inches of peat. Grasses ameliorate that by limiting depth of burn and continued below ground storage.

And those persistent (naturally formed) fire breaks prevent these large scale catastrophic fires.
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Roland Hirsch
October 19, 2020 5:01 pm

“Worst wildfire season in history”? That is sheer ignorance on the part of the authors. Until California became populated in the layer 19th century the normal was 4 to 10 million acres per year. Even in 1930, when the 48 states had 51 million acres burn California likely had more acres of wildfire than in this year.

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