Study Shows We Should Let Wildfires Burn on Their Own
Modern fire management practices of logging and seeding interfere with an ecosystem's ability to restore itself, and does little to protect property.
The May sun was still below the mountains when a small group of biologists set out in the brisk morning air of the Sierra Nevada. Comparing contour maps and checking radio channels, Dr. Chad Hanson and his team from the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute spread out to explore the Stanislaus National Forest, about 160 miles east of San Francisco. The team was searching for black-backed woodpeckers, which are increasingly rare in the Sierra Nevada-Cascades region and which seek out forests that have recently burned with high intensity.
The Stanislaus is one such forest.
In August 2013, the Rim Fire swept over the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, burning 402 square miles. Many feared its intense heat would prove catastrophic to the forest and its soil, leaving behind an ashen, lifeless moonscape.
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