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 Katrina Marland
You don’t have to be a genius to know that wildfires can be very harmful. But we usually think of that damage as being contained to the forest or other areas physically touched by the fires. In reality, the consequences of a wildfire spread far beyond the reach of the flames. Effects of wildfires can be found in the soil, the watershed, the populations of flora and fauna, and more. A new study is helping to quantify that damage in a differe... (Read More)
by Amanda Tai
2011 was a record year for wildfires. Extreme drought conditions plagued the southwestern U.S. across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. The heat and dryness not only interfered with crops and livestock, but also caused one of the longest and most intense wildfire seasons ever. saw their biggest wildfires on record this past year. Over the years, forest managers have used various methods to reduce the risk of wildfire, and researchers ... (Read More)
by Amanda Tai
I remember watching TV as a kid and seeing USDA Forest Service ads with Smokey Bear and his famous catchphrase, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” I also just learned that is the longest-running PSA campaign in U.S. history! Last week, House Republicans considered cutting Forest Service educational programs, including the famous Smokey campaign. But this isn’t just about Smokey the Bear and PSAs. It’s about all environmental edu... (Read More)