Record-breaking wildfires in California have prompted tweets from President Trump and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They blame the fires on “bad environmental laws,” too many dead or dying trees, and not enough logging.
But Michael Kodas, author of the book Megafire: The Race To Extinguish A Deadly Epidemic Of Flame, said one tweet can’t even begin to cover why wildfires are bigger and more dangerous nowadays.
“It’s a very complex problem,” he said.
According to Kodas, climate change, longer fire seasons, and way more people in the West all play a part. While many forests in the region are either sick or overgrown because of decades of fire suppression and poor forest management, he said more logging isn’t going to stop fire.
“A logging company would like to come in and remove the big, granddaddy trees that are really valuable as timber,” he said. “Most of what needs to be removed from these forests are brush, scrub, small, spindly trees that have been sick that have almost no economic value.”
Leading climate scientists suggest we are nearing a point when reduced carbon emissions won’t stop climate change.
Near record-high temperatures this week are expected to fuel fires in the northern Rockies.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.