A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy.

A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy. Credit: John Maxwell/USFWS

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.

Our Strategy

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.

Credit: The National Guard/ Flickr

Fighting wildfire. Credit: The National Guard

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.

Take Action

Visit American Forests’ Action Center to send pre-written letters to Congress and other representatives to support sound wildfire policy. Letters available now include:

donate_editto American Forests to support our work, like wildfire restoration projects and wildfire prevention policy action.

 

Forest Fire News from our Loose Leaf blog



Charred Forests, Melting Snow


by Susan Laszewski
Credit: fortherock/FlickrYou know how when it’s really hot out, you’re better off leaving the black shirt in the closet and going for something lighter? Well, according to new research, forests are having a similar issue. A study, conducted by Oregon State University researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in Geophysical Research Letters, found that snowpack melts faster in forests which have been charred by wildfire. The researchers e... (Read More)



The Politics of Fighting Fire


by Alison Share, Environmental Public Policy Associate, Crowell & Moring LLP
The Rim Fire at night from 35,000 feet in the air Last Wednesday, I traveled to San Francisco to attend a conference for work. My colleague, who traveled separately, showed me photos he had taken on his flight. The photos were of the fire currently burning in Yosemite National Park, bright and jagged slashes of orange and red against the night backdrop. All from 35,000 feet. He said, in a conflicted voice, that it was beautiful to see them from above. The Yosemite fire has put San Francis... (Read More)



From Fire to Flooding


by Michelle Werts
Smoke plume for the Waldo Canyon Fire Sometimes, certain regions of the country just can’t catch a break. Last year, the Colorado Springs area was devastated by the Waldo Canyon Fire, which was the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history until this year’s Black Forest Fire. The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed more than 300 homes; a year later, approximately 200 of those homes are either already or in the process of being rebuilt. But, unfortunately, this was just the beg... (Read More)