Changing snowfall makes it harder to fight fire with fire — The Associated Press

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

Click the link to read the article on the Associated Press website (Brittany Peterson and Matthew Brown). Here’s an excerpt:

[Controlled burn] operations are a central piece of the Biden administration’s $50 billion plan to reduce the density of western forests that have been exploding into firestorms as climate change bakes the region. But the same warming trends that worsen wildfires will also challenge the administration’s attempts to guard against them. Increasingly erratic weather means snow is not always there when needed to safely burn off tall debris piles like those on Colorado’s Pike-San Isabel National Forest. And that seriously complicates the job of exhausted firefighters, now forced into service year-round…Western wildfires have become more volatile as climate change dries forests already thick with vegetation from years of intensive fire suppression. And the window for controlled burns is shrinking.

“It’s been a little bit harder just because of shorter winters,” said David Needham, a U.S. Forest Service ranger who led the Colorado burn operation in late February when the thermometer hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius). Surrounding hillsides showed barren scars from past wildfires, including a 2002 blaze that destroyed 133 homes and at the time was the largest in state history.

Aerial view from the south of Hayman Fire June 30, 2002. Road traversing from left to right is U.S. Highway 24. Town of Manitou Springs is in lower part of photo, Colorado Springs to the right. Garden of the Gods park defined by three upright orange rock formations in right center just below smoke line. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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