Why the West is burning
In this slide deck, we examine wildfires, their role in Western ecosystems, and how a century of suppression has led to a dangerous build-up of fuels in many of the region’s forests.
Wildfires are . . .
- Natural in most Western forests and critical to maintaining ecosystem health
- Behaving differently today due to the legacy effects of fire suppression and other human activities
- Growing larger, burning longer, and becoming more intense; climate change will exacerbate these trends
- Posing increasing risk to homeowners in the wildland-urban interface; threatening some species in forests and woodlands; and leading to increased flooding and soil erosion
- Costing us more to suppress and consuming much of the Forest Service’s budget
- Prompting thinning projects to reduce fuels in overgrown forests, but not without controversy
- Compounded by other stresses on Western forests, such as a changing climate and insect outbreaks