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
, over a third of the world will see increased wildfire activity over the next 30 years as a result of climate change. Climate change poses a major problem for wildfires, but so does federal funding. Like all federal agencies, the Forest Service has had its share of funding issues as agency budgets continue to be cut. On August 23, Congress was notified that the Forest Service did not have enough wildfire funding for the remainder of the fis... (Read More)
by Michelle Werts
During wildfire season, oftentimes, our attention is drawn to the big stories: However, in the last week, two smaller stories have emerged that are heartbreaking, inspiring and illuminating of how far-reaching wildfires can be. A late-July weekend of thunderstorms and lightning led to the ignition of a number of fires across Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho. These fires would become known as the and to-date have burne... (Read More)
by Alison Share, Environmental Public Policy Associate, Crowell & Moring LLP
This month is part two of the brief overview of the history of the U.S. Forest Service’s fire policy. In the past few weeks, in light of the tinderbox quality of the West, partially due to the current drought conditions. As you’ll remember, the “let it burn” policy evolved in the 1970s to counteract years of total fire suppression. Rome wasn’t built in a day, however; years of fire fuel — accumulated on forest floors — are making t... (Read More)