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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Burning impact: What happens after the fire

By Anette McGee Rasch for the Mail Tribune, October 14, 2018

Only 2 percent of the land affected by the 211,801-acre Klondike and Taylor Creek fires on the Wild Rivers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts burned at high severity; an additional 75 percent burned at “low” or “very low” severities — or remained “unburned,” according to a recent U.S. Forest Service assessment. About 20 percent burned at medium severity.

This was determined by Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team members — soil scientists, hydrologists and other Forest Service specialists — who combined ground observations with information from aerial reconnaissance flights and satellite-generated images to produce a soil burn severity map that will now be utilized to create an action plan.

The BAER team just wrapped up a two-week project to identify “imminent post-wildfire threats to human life, safety, property, and also, critical natural or cultural resources on Forest Service lands,” according to public information officer Andy Lyon.

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Fire and Smoke: Where thinning is winning

By Mark Freeman for the Mail Tribune, October 10, 2018

Editor's note: This is Part 5 of a five-day series on devastating wildfires and their effects on Southern Oregon done in partnership with KTVL Channel 10. Also see Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

ASHLAND — More than 3,000 lightning bolts all itching to pick a wildfire fight came crashing into Southern Oregon July 15, yet one of those bolts bound for the Ashland watershed never stood a chance.

With great promise, it smashed into a massive 300-plus-year-old Ponderosa pine that rises like a sentry atop Skyline Ridge, which separates the Ashland and Talent watersheds. Scars show the electricity spiraled around the tree three times, blowing off shards of bark, before it unleashed its fiery fury at the tree’s base.

And that was it.

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Scientists say logging forests won't reduce wildfire risk

By Annette McGee Rasch for The Mail Tribune, published September 21, 2018

A group of environmental scientists have written a letter to Congress advising that efforts to control wildfires should focus on reducing fire hazards near communities, homes and roads and not on logging larger, fire-resistant trees deeper in the forest.

More than 200 scientists with backgrounds in areas such as wildfire ecology and natural resource management recently sent the letter to Congress urging the removal of pro-logging amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s hard for most policymakers to ignore science from so many experts when they explain why the logging provisions would harm forests and worsen wildfire conditions in the West while doing nothing to protect communities,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with Geos Institute, which focuses on climate change and other environmental issues.

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