Why California Can’t Chainsaw Its Way Out Of A Raging Inferno

By Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News Reporter (Posted on November 20, 2018, at 4:36 p.m. ET)

Some of the news photos from the devastation in Paradise, California, show a surprising scene: Green, living trees stand near homes that have been reduced to ashes.

They reveal that wildfire is a capricious enemy, but also indicate that there’s more to preventing catastrophic loss of lives and property than the prescriptions offered by the president of the United States — whose tweets and public statements suggest that what California needs to do is hoard water, cut down trees to prevent fires spreading, and get busy raking.

While thinning forests might work in some areas, studies indicate that it’s unlikely to be an effective remedy for California or the West as a whole — and it would have done little to curb the state’s most destructive recent fires.

As BuzzFeed News reported in July, California’s escalating problems with destructive wildfires have been driven by a warming, drying climate, and a massive expansion of housing in what experts call the wildland–urban interface. This has not only put people in the line of fire but has also increased the chances of a conflagration — because power lines and other human infrastructure and activity are the main sources of ignition.

Keep reading at BuzzFeedNews.com

Keepers of the spotted owl

pnw northern spotted owl USFWSAt the world’s first breeding centre in Langley, B.C., spotted owls are hatched in incubators, given around the clock medical care and hand fed euthanized rodents in a last-ditch effort to save the species from Canadian extinction. All the while scientists warn that the province has yet to recognize the endangered raptor as a symbol of our escalating failure to protect old-growth forests. Read the entire in-dept piece by Sarah Cox at The Narwhal.

DellaSala likened the spotted owl to the quintessential canary in a coal mine. The owl is an indicator of a “whole complex ecosystem with all the parts that are in jeopardy,” he said. “This is just one of the parts and it’s telling us we have not done a responsible job of maintaining the old-growth ecosystems upon which the owl and thousands of other species depend.”

Trump threatens funding over 'ridiculous' wildfires

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter, originally published by E&E News

President Trump yesterday made inaccurate wildfire and water claims while meeting with local officials from California, and threatened to withhold federal firefighting money from the Golden State.

Moments after Trump accepted a certificate thanking him for the response to this summer's Carr Fire, the sixth most destructive in state history, he incorrectly asserted that California could avoid forest fires altogether if more trees were cut down.

"We're tired of giving California hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars all the time for their forest fires, when you wouldn't have them if they manage their forests properly," he said. "So California, get on the ball, because we're not going to hand you any more money; it's ridiculous."

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Roads into Alaska's Tongass can affect climate

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter (F

tongass rainforest dds

The Trump administration is one step closer to carving roads through one of the country's biggest carbon sinks.

Earlier this week, comments closed on an industry-supported proposal that could reshape the Tongass National Forest, the country's biggest stretch of woods. The federal plan is advancing as scientists say that forests will help determine what level of damage the world experiences from warming — bad to catastrophic.

Photo by Dominick DellaSala

The Forest Service proposal aims to build roads through the Tongass. But it's more than a traffic question. Both sides see it as a precursor to logging more old-growth trees. And more broadly, conservationists say it illustrates the gap between what forests need to thrive and what this administration is giving them.

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