“…individual fires that are larger than 100,000 acres are on the rise. These are what we call ‘megafires’.”
May is Wildfire Awareness Month in Washington State and the Washington Chapter of BHA is launching our Wildfire Ecology Education campaign this week. Every week during fire season, we will post highlights from Dr. Paul Hessburg’s TED talk “Why wildfires have gotten worse and what we can do about it”. Dr Hessburg is a research landscape ecologist for the US Forest Service here in Washington and has focused much of his work on wildfire ecology. His talk provides a great foundational understanding of fire ecology in western forests and we highly encourage you to watch the full, 14-minute talk linked here.
In a statement addressed to our Washington BHA membership, Dr. Hessburg explains:
If you hunt and fish in western forests, it’s likely that you already have a deep connection with them. It’s where we go to refill our tank and shut off the noise. Here in the interior, forests evolved with fire, all sorts of fire, and it was a good thing. You could say that fire was the most essential process in the woods, thinning out trees and burning up dead wood. But since the early 20th century, we have been putting them out. Now, instead of getting these good fires, we are seeing large and destructive fires that eliminate vast swaths of forest, and it’s uncertain in some cases whether forests will come back at all. We need to bring these good fires back into the landscape and learn again to live with fire. Many of our favorite places depend on it.