Firefighters and many studies attribute intensive forest forestry projects to helping rescue communities recent threatened by Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada, but the dissent of some conservation groups has rocked the scientific community.
Western US states and the federal government cut thousands of acres of dense timber every year, cutting wide trails of trees near remote communities all intended to slow the spread of extensive wildfires.
Projects aim to try to restore shrubblised forests as they were more than a century ago, before the land managers began to kill any wildfire as quickly as they possibly could.
Efforts now involve use of fire fighting, intentionally putting fires on in the colder season, more humid months to burn off dangerous fuels or fires that backfire to trigger wildfire.
Forest managers ascribe the scorched earth as helping protect the giant forests of Sequoia National Park, which are threatened with severe fire-fighting.
The Klamath Tribes and the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service said the treatment slowed the fire’s spread and reduced its intensity, though critics said the fire had made its fastest north-to-north run through that area, propagating more than 5 miles in about 13 hours.
Some forest felling has been incorrectly managed, he said, but “anywhere that we’ve done an effective fuels treatment, we have modified fire behavior and reduced the intensity.”