Keeping forests healthy with more active management
Exactly a decade later and the current wildfire season is on track to surpass 2002 as Colorado's worst. The High Park fire alone burned nearly 90,000 acres and cost $33.5 million in suppression costs alone.
We are still reactively managing our forests for fire instead of proactively managing them for sustainable health.
Spending large sums for fire management is not new. In 1991, the U.S. Forest Service spent about 13 percent of its budget on fire suppression activities. Now, it spends nearly half, meaning agencies have been forced to spend more on fire suppression and less on recreation, wildlife and timber management.
There are reasons for this shift. Fire suppression is more complex and more expensive because more people than ever live in and around our forests.
Fire seasons have become longer and more intense as the climate has been warmer and drier. Much of our forests are unhealthy after a century of fire suppression and other human impacts.
Since Colorado forests evolved with fire, natural fire cycle disruptions allow many of the smaller, weaker trees and dense underbrush to thrive.
As a result, forests are
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