Manage forests to burn again, scientist says

Jun 10, 2019 at 11:00am

Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

Along with leaving dead trees and branches and other burned debris in their wake, hot fires seed a more fire-adapted underbrush that can come back ferociously, explains Ryan Tompkins, a University of California Cooperative Extension forestry advisor.

"In the last 10 years, we've seen systems change before our eyes," Tompkins told about 100 researchers, government officials and growers at a June 4 symposium on the Camp Fire's environmental fallout. The event was held at the California State University-Chico farm.

For private landowners, the long game could include planting timber stands in cluster configurations rather than a simple grid and paying closer attention to vegetation, Tompkins and other scientists say.

Throughout history, forests "adapted with fire -- frequent, low-intensity fire," Tompkins told the Chico gathering. However, after a century of fire suppression and land management, researchers notice that landscapes are re-burning sooner than imagined, he says.

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