WILDFIRE SMOKE AFFECTS AIR QUALITY
A study has found a connection between wildfire smoke and the number of extremely poor air quality events.
The University of Utah research ties the decline in air quality incidents in the western United States to wildfire activity. The study also found that the increase in the tendency of smoke impacting air quality persists into September.
The study results were published in Environmental Research Letters.
“We’re going to see more fire area burned in the western U.S. between now and 2050,” Kai Wilmot, lead author of the study and doctoral student in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, said in a news release.
“If we extrapolate our trends forward, it seems to indicate that a lot of urban centres are going to have trouble in meeting air quality standards in as little time as 15 years.”
FREQUENT FIRES AFFECT LICHEN REGROWTH
Lichen communities may take decades – and in some cases up to a century – to fully return to chaparral ecosystems after wildfire, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University.
The study, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, is the most comprehensive to date of long-term lichen recolonization after fire.
Chaparral systems in California are adapted to high-intensity fires. But the study indicates that lichen communities may not have the window needed to return to chaparral shrublands after wildfire because of the increasing frequency of fires predicted under a drier, warming climate, and more ignitions because of population growth in these areas.
Lichens are complex organisms that provide food for wildlife and help retain moisture in their environments.
BISON COULD HELP LIMIT WILDIRES
The reintrodution of the long-extinct European bison to Spain might reduce the impact of wildfires.
A decline in sheep herding has left Spain without a large herbivore to clear the undergrowth that fuels the fires.
But a program to reintroduce bison might help.
But Fernando Morán, a veterinarian and director of the European Bison Conservation Center of Spain, says bison might help.
Bison eat about 30 kilograms of vegetation a day comprising wood fibre and shoots and leaves.
“The European bison delivers immediate biodiversity,” Morán told The Guardian. “It opens up dense parts of the forest which lets in the light and allows grass to grow instead of scrub, which lowers fire risk and, in turn, benefits numerous species through food and freedom of movement.”
U.S. SENATOR PROPOSES WILDFIRE COMMISSION
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney is calling for the creation of a wildfire commission to review wildfire policy and make recommendations to Congress.
Romney introduced the Wildfire Mitigation and Management Commission Act of 2021 in June.
“Lives have been lost; structures have been lost; businesses have gone out of business because of fire,” Romney said. “And we keep doing things the way we’ve done them in the past without recognizing that the world has changed. It’s getting drier in the American west . . . The fires are becoming bigger, the loss of life is more significant and continuing to do the things the way we’ve done them in the past doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
The bill would establish a commission “to study and recommend fire prevention, mitigation, management, and rehabilitation policies for forests and grasslands.”
Romney criticized the wildland fire policy as a “patchwork of legislation and agency guidance across departments and jurisdictions, further complicated by mixed land ownership.”
Jamie Barnes, acting director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said 85 per cent of the 380 wildfires in Romney’s home state of Utah in 2021 as of mid-June were human-caused.