Despite what the logging industry says, cutting down trees isn’t stopping catastrophic wildfires

Source(s): Oregon Public Broadcasting ProPublica
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By Tony Shick and Jes Burns

[...]

In the decades since government restrictions reduced logging on federal lands, the timber industry has promoted the idea that private lands are less prone to wildfires, saying that forests thick with trees fuel bigger, more destructive blazes. An analysis by OPB and ProPublica shows last month’s fires burned as intensely on private forests with large-scale logging operations as they did, on average, on federal lands that cut fewer trees.

In fact, private lands that were clear-cut in the past five years, with thousands of trees removed at once, burned slightly hotter than federal lands, on average. On public lands, areas that were logged within the past five years burned with the same intensity as those that hadn’t been cut, according to the analysis.

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Because the state and federal governments have tried to put out every wildfire for decades, forests that would have been cleared of vegetation by frequent, naturally occurring fires became overgrown. Logging or thinning could provide jobs and wood for local mills, but scientists say it won’t prevent destructive wildfires like the ones the state experienced this year.

Logging doesn’t eliminate the underbrush, twigs and tree needles that fire feeds on. Removing brush and debris requires fire. That includes “prescribed fire,” using drip torches to safely burn across the forest floor during cooler weather.

[...]

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Hazards Wildfire
Country and region United States of America
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