Forest Service plans to thin and burn millions of acres to mitigate more extreme wildfires — #Wyoming Public Radio

Women in Prescribed Fire Training Exchange participants practice different controlled burning ignition patterns. Photo courtesy Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network via USDA

From Boise Public Radio (Madelyn Beck) via Wyoming Public Radio:

The U.S. Forest Service plans a dramatic increase in forest thinning and prescribed burns across the West.

Its recently released 10-year plan includes treating 20 million acres of Forest Service land, and 30 million acres of other federal, state, tribal, and private lands. The agency says it has seen such proactive treatments dampen the effects of massive blazes, like in Arizona’s largest blaze, the Wallow Fire, in 2011…

The agency aims to treat forests at up to four times the current rate…

Since the late 20th century, there’s been less land management and far more spent on fighting big blazes, [Ryan] Tompkins said, “and we need to flip that investment.” He points to all the resources – more than $600 million – used to fight Northern California’s Dixie Fire for months as it burned nearly a million acres last summer…

USFS highest risk firesheds January 2022.

The Forest Service also picked out areas it wants to treat first. That includes large sections of Colorado and Idaho. But Wyoming doesn’t have a single area identified.

Tompkins says there can be equity issues when you have to prioritize burns, and he’d like there to be plans for forest resiliency on every acre, but “there are so few resources available that we continue to try to address this problem through prioritization. And over decades of prioritization, we’ve ended up in a situation where we’re really in triage.”

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