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 American Forests
By David May, Communications Intern
A report released by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) earlier this month has revealed a stunning increase in wildfire suppression costs. This past year, more than half of the organization’s budget went to fire suppression, a first in USFS history and a stark comparison to the 16 percent of the budget allocated to wildfire suppression in 1995. This exponential growth shows no sign of s... (Read More)
by Loose Leaf Contributor
Policy Interns, Sarah Davidson and Conrad Kabbaz, participated in the Hill Day for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. Here are their views on the day.
It’s quite rare that National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club agree on an issue. Yet, both have joined American Forests, and over 250 other organizations representing a wide variety of interests, to urge Congress to stop fire borrowing and pass the Wildfire Disaster Funding Ac... (Read More)
by American Forests
David May, Communications Intern
Part 1 of the 3-part series Insects and Our Forests. Read part 2 here and part 3 here.
Since the ‘90s, the scenic views of North America’s lushest western forests have become more and more splattered with a palette of rust and dark grey. Once only patches amongst the vast swathes of evergreen, entire mountainsides now stand barren. This widespread problem has many culprits,... (Read More)