Denver, Colorado 2021-06-22 10:12:26 –
Salem, Oregon — In the 1950s, when Harold Biswell, a professor of forestry at the University of California, experimented with open burning in the state’s pine forest, many thought he was a nut.
“Harry the Torch,” “Burn-Em-Up Biswell,” and “Doctor Burnwell” were some of his nicknames from critics, including federal and state forest managers and timber groups.
Sixty years after Bizwell gave an unpopular message to those who advocated total fire extinguishing, he doesn’t look crazy, but the idea saves forests in the western United States and mitigates the danger of wildfires. It is considered a person who can.
Millions of acres of land were overgrown, wildfires were more likely, towns were devastated, massive evacuation was triggered, and the west coast was covered with heavy smoke.
Today, authorities want to explode the number of fires set under deliberate and carefully controlled conditions to remove understory vegetation, pine needle beds, and other surface fuels.
Last month, four U.S. Democratic senators (Ron Weiden, Oregon, Joe Manchin, West Virginia, Maria Cantwell, Washington, and Dianne Feinstein, California) told federal land managers a given fire on federal land. Introduced a law requiring a significant increase in the number and scale of. Weiden said the open burning would more than double.
“There will be certain technically skilled firefighters,” Weiden said in a telephone interview. “We will streamline winter smoke regulations.”
The Weiden and Biden administrations are also calling for the creation of a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps to provide more boots on the ground to tackle forest health.
In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill on March 18. The bill paves the way for more open burning by establishing standards of responsibility for open burning landowners and creating certification programs.
In Oregon, a bill from Senator Jeff Golden enacted a burn manager program that was recognized as a rule of open burning. He envisions hundreds of trained managers in Oregon overseeing open burning.
“Last year, wildfires flooded the two towns,” said Golden from Rogue Valley. “I don’t think we have any choice but to increase the number of open burns.” “In the western United States, decades of fuel have been accumulated and will burn.
“So, do you want to burn it in a planned and strategic way that has the elements that control it, or at all the costs it requires-people, animals, environmental costs-with a megafire Do you want to burn it? “
It took years for forest managers to accept open burning and finally accept it. In the first half of the 20th century, fires were considered an enemy, and federal and state forest managers believed that open burning damaged the environment, especially timber, a commercial resource. However, in the late 1960s and 1970s, federal forest managers began to adopt open burning.
However, the scale-up of practices is slow. Biologist David Karl said that from 1995 to 2000, an average of 1.4 million acres were burned each year, and in 2001 there was a great need for fuel cuts to avoid a serious wildfire. It is well below the acre. The 2002 book “Burning Question: The American Battle of Natural Fire”. An additional 141 million acres needed treatment.
Some cold realities are piled up against the latest plans. The period during the wildfire season, when open burning can be safe, has been shortened. Some forests are overgrown to ignite without thinning. Burning can obscure nearby towns.
“Because we violate the Clean Air Act, we need to be careful not to smoke the community,” said Tim Horschbach, Deputy Director of Policy and Planning for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
In addition, many landowners are hesitant to use open burning for fear of high costs.
In some states, burners can be held liable for property damage caused by a given fire that escapes. Others use so-called simple negligence criteria, which require the burner to practice reasonable care. Plaintiffs must prove their negligence that the burner is liable for damages and fire extinguishing costs. Significant negligence criteria make it difficult to hold people accountable, and plaintiffs require that they show a burner who acted recklessly in the event of a fire going out of control.
To encourage open burning on private land, Oregon seeks a transition from simple negligence to gross negligence. Governor Kate Brown signed the law on June 11 and consulted state agencies with stakeholders to investigate whether states with such standards would experience more open burning and uncontrollable fires. I instructed you to do it. The review should also consider the availability of insurance for certain fires.
One of the most devastating escape fires occurred in 2012, when the Colorado Forest Department burned 50 acres near the small town of Conifer, southwest of Denver. After the fire seemed to go out, strong winds brought it back to life.
Anne Appel, 51, was one of the worried residents who dialed 911.
“It’s blowing smoke right above my house,” she told the emergency commander.
“Yes, they have a crew along the way because it’s growing on about 5 acres,” the dispatcher replied.
Appel thanked the operator and hung up. Her body was later found in the ashes of her house.
The other two also died in the fire, eventually consuming 6 square miles and destroying 20 homes.
Colorado’s exemption law capped $ 600,000 in liability per case, but after the fire, the state legislature lifted the cap on open burning if victims claimed that the state had made a mistake. .. The state paid a total of $ 18 million in compensation to 20 political parties. The largest settlement of $ 4.8 million was paid to Appel’s husband and real estate.
Burning prevented disasters and high reconstruction costs. In 2017, a wildfire was threatened in a resort town in Sisters, Oregon, but firefighters said a few months ago when a crew member removed a tree, brushed it with a machine, and ignited a given burn. I was able to control.
“The fire stopped because there was plenty of space for firefighters in the low fuel, thin, natural forests,” said Jeff Merkley, Oregon’s Democratic Senator. Funds for forest treatment.
Scott Stevens, a professor of wilderness fire science at the University of California, Berkeley, wants a significant increase in open burning, along with mechanical thinning, but of trained and politically trained people. Due to the shortage, it is expected to increase gradually. And social support.
For Biswell, who died in 1992 at the age of 86, the open burning is now widely seen as a remedy.
Harold Weaver, the Forester of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was also an early advocate. In 1955, Weaver published an article entitled “Enemy, Friend, Fire as a Tool in Forest Management”. Like Bizwell, he was cold and crossed his shoulders. The two supported each other.
In the western part, which is susceptible to wildfires due to the vast wilderness and dry climate, open burning is being strengthened.
In 2019, 3.7 million acres were processed by open burning in the west, an increase of 268% from 2011, the National Association of State Foresters and the Union of Open Burning Councils said in a report.
Stevens said that, as Berkeley’s predecessor Biswell envisioned, open burning and restoration thinning should be increased by at least five times in order to turn things around and create healthy forests.
“Once you get treatment for the area, you have to go back to maintenance treatment in about 15 years, and this never ends,” Stevens said. “This is an important point. The program needs to last forever.”
Amid clamor to increase prescribed burns, obstacles await Source link Amid clamor to increase prescribed burns, obstacles await