Cause of the wildfires out west?

Everybody (including Governor Newsom) seems to assume it’s a matter of climate-change-induced drought. But my brother insists it’s because all the affected states, some years ago, bowed down to environmentalists and discontinued their old forest-management practices. Also, they put down logging, the practice of which involved cutting firebreaks, and which focused on harvesting the oldest, most burnable trees.

In Washington state, south of Omak, there is a 400K fire (two separate but contiguous burns). That area, while not treeless, is mostly not forest. It is a grass fire. It looks like two of the largest complexes in California are only partially forest fires. If it is dry enough, shit will burn. The infamous fire started by reveal party pyrotechnics started in grass, not forest.

So only one out of the many fires was the gender reveal?

It appears that El Dorado is directly attributed to the reveal party. There is a Bobcat fire complex adjacent to the El Dorado complex that may be related to it – the available information is unclear, but the start date suggests a connection. Between the two of them, 33K acres are burning, much less than 20% contained.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2020-09-07/high-winds-temperatures-create-dangerous-fire-conditions

With no recent lightning storms, the overwhelming majority of wildfires [the Washington Department of Natural Resources] is fighting are presumed to be human-caused, the agency said Tuesday.

In Oregon, 1) a rare easterly wind blew fires toward the valley (which is the most populous area of the state); 2) earlier, the Republicans walked out of session, meaning among other things that legislation intended to ameliorate fire risk had to be tabled.

Hey, I saw a goldfinch carelessly tossing its cigarette into the dry grass the other day.

Ha that actually made me laugh.

They’ve arrested at least 4 people on suspicion of arson. In Oregon, I believe individuals can be fined up to the amount of damage as restitution. The language is in the juvenile law (?!) but I am not sure how the adult law is worded. The kid who set the Gorge fire a few years ago was fined $36 million.

Just coincidence. The fires aren’t even remotely close to each other.

Sorry, I misidentified it. The adjacent, larger fire is Apple, and it is listed as human caused.

There has been some Q-ish shouting about the fires being set by “antifa”. Apparently, someone was hearing streaming status reports which included that there were backfires (literally fighting fire with fire) being set by the BLM. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Eh, no. It is the old forest management techniques that are part of the problem. To whit - they sucked. Primarily in the areas of fire management which was zero tolerance after WW II (and before, really), hence the creation of the Smokey the Bear anti-fire mascot in 1944.

What the environmentalists objected to in the 1960’s and 1970’s was primarily clear-cutting in National Forests. This was indeed scaled back, but clear-cutting, other than creating the occasional short-term moonscape, is not fire management. If anything it intensifies forest fires since a lot of clear-cutting mitigation is tree plantations which are prone to more intense crown fires. One of many reasons it’s a lousy practice. Even thinning can be counter-productive if done improperly, usually by over-harvesting.

So have environmentalists changed how forests are managed? Yes, largely for the better. Have those changes negatively impacted forest fires? Mostly no. The answer is yes only insomuch as some short-sighted environmentalists, like short-sighted people everywhere, may have advocated for fire suppression in the past to “protect” particularly scenic areas.

But zero-tolerance fire suppression policies goes back long before the environmental movement began (and it began in part as a reaction to increased utilization of national forest land after WW II). Though the dangers of fire suppression were recognized by academics back in the 1950’s and 1960’s it continued for decades because:
a.) It has been overwhelmingly popular with the public - fires are bad in the public eye.
b.) Inertia. The problem has grown slowly over decades as fuel loads have steadily increased and populations have increased pushing more and more into fire-prone areas. In the 1970’s it seemed less pressing.
c.) To borrow a term asymmetric career risk. A controlled burn that gets out of control will generate serious backlash. Attempts at suppression, even failed attempts, generate a lot less.

Conversely, there have been false reports of fires being set by the Proud Boys, presumably coming from the far-left.

Yeah, I have heard those rumors all over the place about proud boys starting fires – oh, wait, no I have not. Can you point one out to me?

Here ya go.

Ok, so in CA most of the forests are owned by the Federal Government. So the State has little say in how they are managed.

Most of the fires out here are brush or grass fires. So “forest-management practices” or logging isnt germane.

The fire that just burned the Bridger range (and our property) north of Bozeman was determined to be caused by a lightening strike that occurred 2 weeks before the fire started! It’s small potatoes (8200 acres, 28 homes burnt) compared to the fires further to the west, but watching it blow up from 400 acres to 7000 last Saturday in about 4 hours was something. Amazingly, our under-construction house was surrounded by bare ground from excavation and was spared. Not so for many of our neighbors.

Wait, isn’t that about ten percent of the houses in Montana?

So, has California not been vacuuming their forest?

Y’know, the fire here in Napa and Solano counties was a combination of drought and a freak thunderstorm setting off the dry stuff. Gee, what might cause that?

Also, there is, to my knowledge anyway, no big commercial logging here.