[MCN] Official Year-to-Date Wildfire Stats: Beyond the Rhetoric & Hysteria

Matthew Koehler mattykoehler at gmail.com
Tue Sep 1 10:27:09 EDT 2015


With so much media and political attention focused on wildfires – and in
some cases public lands management and calls to greatly increase logging on
national forests by reducing public input and environmental analysis – it
may be helpful to take a look at this year's wildfire stats to see what's
burned and where.

Here's a copy of the National Interagency Coordinator Center's 'Incident
Management Situation Report from Tuesday, September 1, 2015:

• As of today, a total of 8,202,557 acres have burned in U.S. wildfires. In
1930 and 1931, over 50 million acres burned each year and during the 10
year (hot and dry) period from the late 1920’s to the late 1930’s an
AVERAGE of 30 million acres burned every year in the U.S. [NOTE: Under the
Bush II Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and federal government
purged all wildfire acre burned stats from before 1960].

• *This year, 63% of ALL wildfire acres burned in the U.S. burned in
Alaska, much of it over remote tundra ecosystems*. According to federal
records, since 1959 the average temperature in Alaska has jumped 3.3
degrees and the average winter temperature has spiked 5 degrees.

• *Less than 8% of ALL wildfires that have burned this year in the U.S.
have burned in the northern Rockies*.

• *National Forests account for ONLY 15% of all wildfire acres burned in
U.S. this year*.

• 88% of all BLM (Bureau of Land Management) acres burned in wildfires this
year were in Alaska, again much of tundra, not forests.

This information is not meant to discount specific experiences communities,
homeowners or citizens have had with wildfires this year, but just serves
as a bit of important, fact-based information and context  regarding what
land ownerships have burned and where they are located.

Again, this information is especially important in the context of recent
statements (and pending federal legislation) from certain politicians
blaming wildfires on a lack of national forest logging or a handful of
timber sale lawsuits.

If politicians are going to predictably use another wildfire season to yet
again weaken our nation's key environmental or public lands laws by
increasing logging (including calls by people like Rep Ryan Zinke for
logging within Wilderness Areas) then the public should at least have some
facts and statistics available to help put the wildfires in context.

Finally, please keep in mind that *right now the U.S. Forest Service has
the ability to conduct an unlimited number of 'fast-track' logging projects
on over 45 MILLION acres of National Forest nationally – and on 5 MILLION
acres of National Forests in Montana*. This public lands logging would all
be 'categorically excluded from the requirements of NEPA.'

Unfortunately, while the media will allow politicians to blame the
wildfires on environmentalists and a lack of national forest logging,
nobody in the media seems able to remind these politicians, or the public,
the fact that 45 million aces of National Forests nationally – and 5
million acres in Montana – can be fast-tracked logged at any time.


Matthew Koehler
WildWest Institute
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