the isn’t to say that the underlying threat of

the Rockies (Past + changing with climate change)

Throughout
the 20th century the U.S. Forest Service’s fire management policy
stipulated that all wildfires were to be suppressed by 10am the morning after
they were first spotted.  The
firefighting efforts were highly successful, and resulted in an annual average
of 30,000,000 acres burned during the 1930s, reduced to about 2,000,000 to
5,000,000 acres burned by the 1960s.  “This
caused denser and more fire-prone forests than the long-term average for the
West, which has led to more massive and uncontrollable fires today.” (Meyer,
2017)  After realizing that no new tree
growth had started to occur in forests across the Rocky Mountains, a special
advisory board on wildlife management concluded in 1967 that wildfires were a
key part to the forest ecosystem, for fires spurred new growth.  Fire suppression policies then changed into
fire management policies that ensure the wildfire burning is controlled rather
than suppressed.  The problem today is
that climate change in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountains has created hot, dry
summers that have steadily dried out the pine trees in the northwestern forests
of Colorado, making the pine trees more susceptible to fire dangers and more susceptible
to the spread of forest fires.  All the
while making it much more difficult to control the spread of wildfires.  Small forest fires that historically burn the
underbrush and allow for new seeds and growth to occur, are becoming hotter and
larger fires that reach the canopy of pine trees, causing large, difficult to
control crown fires.  Crown fires spread
from canopy to canopy and devastate entire forests, burning so hot that they
destroy the nutrients in the soil, roots and the seeds that generate new trees
and help the forest ecology.  The effects
of these cause landslides, soil erosion from rainfall later in the season and
vast areas of devastated vegetation.  “In
fact, in the last few decades, the number of large fires are on the rise across
the Western United States and the length of the fire season continues to
expand.” (Lohan, 2017)  Evidence of
climate change and the increased presence of large forest fires is already
showing true.  2017 has been the worst
year on record for western forest wildfires in California.  Colorado maintained a good year regarding
forest fires this season but that isn’t to say that the underlying threat of
forest fires in a dry climate doesn’t still exist.  On average, more than 100,000 wildfires clear
4 to 5 million acres of land in the U.S. every year.  In recent years, wildfires have burned up to 9
million acres of land. (Thiessen, 2017)  

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