Restoring California’s Forests to Reduce Wildfire Risks Will Take Time, Billions of Dollars and a Broad Commitment | Best States

By Roger Bales and Martha Conklin

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

The California Wildfires in Photos

california wildfires

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state

Read More
Read More

Lab develops unprecedented long-term wildfire prediction model

Argonne develops unprecedented long-term wildfire prediction model
Wildfires burn across the West, affecting California, Oregon and Washington. Credit: Shutterstock / My Photo Buddy

Wildfire indices and high-resolution climate models combine to produce a detailed historical analysis of wildfire events across the U.S. and suggest the potential for more severe and frequent fires in the latter half of the century.


The list is long, some of the names familiar: Sunflower, Paradise, Whitewater-Baldy, Apple, Pinecreek. Names that invoke images of pastoral respites away from the busy world.

Now those names are synonymous with wildfires.

The number and severity of wildfires are making headlines across the globe, from the Western United States to Brazil, from Siberia to Australia. Wildfires devastate the environment, decimating huge swaths of land and wildlife populations—it is estimated, for example, that a half billion animals perished in the megafires that recently swept Australia. Beyond their impact on nature, wildfires also take a toll on air quality,

Read More
Read More

In ‘the chaos of a burning forest’: A dispatch from the wildfire front lines

A Carson Hotshot with a wildfire in the background

A member of the Carson Hotshots works a fireline at the Slater Fire in Northern California.


USFS/Carson Hotshots/H. Kligman

With unprecedented fires burning millions of acres across the Western US over the past few months, thousands of firefighters and other personnel from across the country have responded to the call to help contain the devastating blazes. 

Northern New Mexico, where I live, has managed to escape the worst of this horrifying fire season, with just a handful of smaller wildfires. That has freed up firefighting crews like the National Forest Service’s Carson Hotshots, based in Taos, to travel to help on those larger fires. 

The Hotshots are an elite firefighting crew specializing in wildfire suppression and emergency situations. The team’s standards for physical fitness and training are intense. I’ve occasionally marveled when mountain biking around Taos with members of the crew, who carry on conversations as we pedal up steep

Read More
Read More

A dispatch from the wildfire front lines

With unprecedented fires burning millions of acres across the Western US over the past few months, thousands of firefighters and other personnel from across the country have responded to the call to help contain the devastating blazes. 



a person with a sunset in the background: A member of the Carson Hotshots works a fireline at the Slater Fire in Northern California. USFS/Carson Hotshots/H. Kligman


© Provided by CNET
A member of the Carson Hotshots works a fireline at the Slater Fire in Northern California. USFS/Carson Hotshots/H. Kligman

Northern New Mexico, where I live, has managed to escape the worst of this horrifying fire season, with just a handful of smaller wildfires. That has freed up firefighting crews like the National Forest Service’s Carson Hotshots, based in Taos, to travel to help on those larger fires. 

The Hotshots are an elite firefighting crew specializing in wildfire suppression and emergency situations. The team’s standards for physical fitness and training are intense. I’ve occasionally marveled when mountain biking around Taos with members of the crew, who carry on conversations as

Read More
Read More

NASA observations aid efforts to track California’s wildfire smoke from space

NASA observations aid efforts to track California's wildfire smoke from space
On Aug. 31, MODIS detected several hotspots in the August Complex Fire in California, as well as several other actively burning areas to the north, west, and south. Credit: R. Kahn/K.J. Noyes/NASA Goddard/A. Nastan/JPL Caltech/J. Tackett/J-P Vernier/NASA Langley

Wildfires have been burning across the state of California for weeks—some of them becoming larger complexes as different fires merge. One of those was the August Complex Fire, which reportedly began as 37 distinct fires caused by lightning strikes in northern California on Aug. 17. That fire is still burning over a month later.


The August Complex Fire and others this fire season have been sending far-reaching plumes of wildfire smoke into the atmosphere that worsen air quality in California and beyond. Predicting where that smoke will travel and how bad the air will be downwind is a challenge, but Earth-observing satellites can help. Included among them are NASA’s Terra and CALIPSO

Read More
Read More

COVID-19 disinfectants, wildfire smoke and mold endanger chemically susceptible individuals; new brief inventory can help identify those at risk — ScienceDaily

Intolerances to chemicals, foods and drugs impact 8%-33% of individuals, studies suggest, yet few people are screened for it at their doctors’ offices.

To address this and increase awareness of chemical intolerance, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) developed and validated a three-question, yes-or-no survey that primary care providers, allergists, dermatologists and other specialists can incorporate into patient visits. The survey, called the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory, or BREESI, can also be used by researchers and patient groups, and for epidemiological studies in exposed populations.

Sept. 16 in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers reported that the BREESI accurately predicts scores on a comprehensive 50-question survey called the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI). The QEESI, which the UT Health San Antonio group introduced online in 2014, is available at no charge to patients and clinicians.

Read More
Read More