Thanks to higher temperatures and repeated droughts, wildfire risks in California have never been higher. That’s why residents may be surprised to learn that the state government hasn’t come close to doing all it could to bring these risks down.
In February, the Little Hoover Commission, a state watchdog agency, called for a shift from a reactive approach — waiting for fires to start, than putting them out — to a proactive approach that emphasizes forest management. This means regularly thinning forests and using “controlled burns” to reduce fire risks. As the report notes, this approach has a long history of working well.
More land — especially the 24 million acres controlled by the federal government — must be included.
Forest management practices are sometimes rapped by environmental groups that argue they’re pushed by avaricious logging companies. But with 89 million trees killed statewide by bark beetle infestations in 2016 and 2017 and dead trees fueling the deadly Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park, this opposition — and the state’s passive approach to fire risks — isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous.
— The San Diego Union-Tribun