'Fuel Management' Fueling Wildfires

As wildfires rage in Southern California, some experts are calling for a revision of policies that encourage controlled burns to reduce fire risks.
August 29, 2009, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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Fuel management simply causes more fires, according to Jon Keeley, a research ecologist with U.S. Geologic Survey and a chaparral expert.

"The problem for the chaparral - and the many humans who live nearby - is the frequency of such fires. There are about 100 times more wildfire ignitions in Southern California today than in 1900, says Keeley, who has tracked the region's fire history back to the 19th century.

...Land management policy in the chaparral zone has long been based on the belief that fuel management can limit the size and severity of wildfires. Believing chaparral needed to burn because of an "unhealthy" accumulation of old growth, land managers ordered controlled burns in order to thin the flora and make it more fire resistant. An expanding volume of research is refuting the wisdom of this practice."

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Published on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 in Miller-McCune
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