News, Forest Service resumes prescribed fire program, but some fear new rules will delay projects : detailed suggestions and opinions about Forest Service resumes prescribed fire program, but some fear new rules will delay projects .
The U.S. Forest Service is resuming its prescribed burning program with new rules that it says will minimize the risk of fires escaping control and damaging communities. The announcement comes after a 90-day pause prompted by a pair of escaped burns that merged into the largest wildfire in New Mexico history and destroyed hundreds of homes.
But some experts say the restrictions, which include requirements that agency administrators authorize ignitions for 24-hour periods only and be on-site for certain burns, create more barriers to doing the work precisely when the need for it is most acute.
“At face value, it seems like these are not that big a deal,” said Bill Tripp, director of natural resources and environmental policy at the Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources in Northern California. “But in actual practice, it’s pretty much going to shut burning down at any level significant to what needs to take place, at least in the Forest Service jurisdictions.”
Prescribed burning refers to the practice of setting land alight under optimal conditions to ensure it burns at a relatively low intensity. The practice is considered one of the best tools to mitigate catastrophic wildfires because it consumes vegetation that can carry flames up into the forest canopy. When that happens, wildfires spread faster, burn hotter and kill trees.