The U.S. Forest Service has burned more than 480 acres in the Flying J Project, an effort on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona to protect the community of Tusayan. The project is outside the Grand Canyon National Park and represents a small part of a larger effort to use controlled burns on more than 4,500 acres of the forest. So far, nearly 1,900 acres have been treated. (U.S. Forest Service/Holly Krake)
The loss of property and firefighters during wildfires are a reminder of the challenges we face in reducing the risks associated with large, unpredictable wildfires. Climate change, drought, insect infestations, changing land-use patterns, and other factors have contributed to increases in the complexity and in the numbers of wildfires across the United States.
Over the past four decades, some states such as Arizona and Idaho have seen the number of large fires burning each year more than triple. In many other western states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming, the number of large fires has doubled, according to a report by Climate Central. Average spring and summer temperatures across 11 Western states have increased by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, contributing to higher wildfire risks. In Arizona, spring temperatures have warmed faster than any other state in the U.S., rising nearly 1 degree per decade since 1970, which likely played a role in the increasing number of fires in the state. Read more »
Debbie Casto, Forest Service fire management officer for the National Forests in Florida, discusses the precautions taken before conducting a prescribed burn near threatened and endangered species sites on the Apalachicola National Forest. The forest is home to several endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. (Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)
More than 8,000 miles from home, fire management officers from Australia and New Zealand recently visited the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida to share techniques and strategies in the use of prescribed fire.
“We see how the use of frequent fire intervals helps manage the different fuel types,” said Andrew Greystone, fire and emergency service manager from Victoria, Australia. The Apalachicola appears to be a more diverse forest – including species, flora, fauna, habitat for birds and other animals – than what we’re used to seeing.” Read more »