Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Forest Service may let more fires burn

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After coming in $400 million over budget following last year’s busy fire season, the Forest Service is altering its approach and may let more fires burn instead of attacking every one.

The move, quietly made in a letter late last month by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, brings the agency more in line with the National Parks Service and back to what it had done until last year. It also answers critics who said the agency wasted money and endangered firefighters by battling fires in remote areas that posed little or no danger to property or critical habitat.

Tidwell played down the change, saying it’s simply an “evolution of the science and the expertise” that has led to more emphasis on pre-fire planning and managed burns, which involve purposely setting fires to eliminate dead trees and other fuels that could help a wildfire quickly spread.

“We have to be able to structure (fire management) this way to help all of us,” Tidwell told The Associated Press. “So that we’re thinking about the right things when we make these decisions.”

The more aggressive approach instituted last year was prompted by fears that fires left unchecked would quickly devour large swaths of the drought-stricken West, Tidwell said. New Mexico and Colorado reported record fire seasons in 2012, and with dry conditions remaining in much of the region 2013 could be another bad year in the West.

In all, the agency oversees about 193 million acres in 43 states.

But the “kill all fires” approach angered watchdog groups and environmentalists, who said it was expensive and ignored fire’s natural ability to rid the landscape of dangerous fuels and bolster forest ecology.

“This new policy gives a lot more flexibility. It takes the blanket policy where every fire was treated the same and gives fire managers more options,” said Timothy Ingalsbee, executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology.

“Chief Tidwell’s move should restore the confidence of the fire management community that all the training and technology that’s been invested to give fire crews the ability to work with fire to restore ecosystems will not be wasted by a return to yesteryear’s all-out war on wildfires.”

While all federal agencies operate from the same federal wildfire management policy, each has its own goals and ways of interpreting it. The National Parks Service, for example, allows more fires to burn on its lands.

But letting fires burn also has its dangers, even in remote areas.

Last year, the Parks Service allowed a fire to burn that started as a half-acre blaze in remote Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. What became the Reading Fire eventually required firefighters and ended up charring 42 square miles of forestlands as it spread outside the park’s boundaries to lands managed by the Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire damaged the region’s timber industry and cost an estimated $15 million to suppress. No structures were harmed.

While each agency involved had a different approach to managing fires, the confusion during the Reading fire hammered home the need for agencies with different approaches to talk more often about their expectations, a review of the incident found.

Knowing that the Forest Service is stepping back from 2012′s more aggressive approach helps different agencies plan how they will respond to fires that have the potential to spread, said Eric Hensel, a National Parks Service fire management officer at the Lassen park.

“What we learned with the Reading fire is that, even with USFS going a little bit further toward (allowing fires to burn), we can’t assume anything,” Hensel said. “Now we’ve got some common ground here in terms of our approach, but let’s be up front about where we are and work together.”

————

By Jason Dearen. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Attorneys at odds over Woodland infant’s death

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
4-H members prepare for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Food insecurity remains an issue for many county residents

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

 
 
 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6