Friday, October 12, 2012

Colorado: Udall, Bennet seek in-depth wildfire study

Colorado’s two U.S. Senators are asking the U.S. Forest Service for an in-depth study of several major wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes along the Front Range wildland-urban interface — the red zone, where up to 40 percent of the state’s population has chosen to live in areas where fires are a natural part of the ecosystem. “The unprecedented nature and pattern of these fires calls for a systematic and scientific analysis to learn how we as a society can do better. Our goal is to make sure that the lessons learned — positive and negative — are captured and acted upon appropriately,” they wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Specifically, the senators want the Forest Service to determine the influence of beetle-kill trees on fire behavior and severity. Day by day reports from the fire indicated that beetle kill was not a major factor in the early phases of the fire, when most of the home destruction happened on private lands. As the fire later moved west into national forest lands, it did affect areas with a higher percentage of beetle-killed trees. The senators also want the Forest Service to study whether previous forest treatments were effective in stopping or slowing the fire and reducing soil damage, and to outline the “long-term ecological trajectories” of the burned areas...more

And NM's two Senators are asking for??

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