Forests & Fire
Forest ecosystems are dynamic and complex. A disturbance to any part of the network can alter the balance of relationships and affect the entire ecosystem either positively or negatively. Fire is unique in that it can be either a beneficial natural process or a devastating catastrophe. For species like lodgepole pine, fire is necessary to help reduce competition and help the species release its seeds. However, climate change, drought and other conditions have caused occurrences of intense wildfire to increase, which can damage forests so badly that it takes years for them to naturally recover. Wildfire is necessary for forests, but also a threat to them, so strong policies and management are imperative to make sure wildfire is working for our forests instead of against them.
American Forests partners with other organizations to protect the surviving trees on burned lands and to restore forests, educating the public and key decision makers about the importance of these trees. Over the last 10 years, roughly 26 percent of our Global ReLeaf projects have restored forests damaged by fires.
In 2007, ConocoPhillips pledged $2.8 million to fund American Forests’ wildfire restoration project in this area, as part of a carbon offset settlement between the energy company and California Attorney General Jerry Brown. The ongoing Cuyamaca project has laid the groundwork to encourage forest restoration throughout the region.
At the federal level, American Forests has long advocated that decision makers in the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Congress should address wildfire threats and develop plans and policies for wildfire mitigation and prevention. This resulted in the establishment of the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) Coalition, which supported the passage of the FLAME Act that would allow the federal government to enforce funding for larger emergency wildfires without taking away from other important projects.
Visit American Forests’ Action Center to send pre-written letters to Congress and other representatives to support sound wildfire policy. Letters available now include:
- Asking Congress to support the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program, which restores forests and reduces fire risk in U.S. communities.
Forest Fire News from our Loose Leaf blog
by Amanda Tai
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that fire is a natural part of a forest’s life cycle that helps replenish soil nutrients. It’s for this reason that wildfires are usually allowed to burn out on their own , granted that they remain at a low intensity and are far from developed areas. However, a new U.S. Forest Service directive has put a temporary hold the agency's typical response to wildfires for the last two decades. This new dir... (Read More)
by Alison Share, Environmental Public Policy Associate, Crowell & Moring LLP
Last week I had the tremendous opportunity to travel to Wyoming and learn more about American Forests’ work in some of our western forests. The trip was eye-opening to the devastation caused by the mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust. These two factors — along with the fire-suppression policy implemented by the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1900s — have played a major role in the current condition of forests in the West.... (Read More)
by Scott Steen, President & CEO
This June, more land burned from wildfires than in any other June in the last decade — more than 1.3 million acres. At the same time, there were actually fewer fires than usual. This pattern of fewer fires resulting in greater levels of destruction is getting more common each year. Across the U.S., we are seeing more and more megafires like that in Colorado’s Waldo Canyon, which was the most destructive fire in the state’s history. N... (Read More)