Here's Why Forest Health Matters
Essentially those large wildfires really come from overgrown forests?
That’s right. The Forest Service was really created to protect our forest resources but also to protect our water resources over 100 years ago. We’ve been really aggressive. The Forest Service is putting out all fires, so 100 years of fire exclusion, especially in environments where fire has been a natural part of the ecosystem. Since we’ve been putting out fires with quite a lot of success, there’s been a disruption of that natural fire cycle, and that disruption has created far more trees, sometimes up to 10 times more trunks and stems than what was naturally occurring, as well as two to three times more biomass. Often trees are at a similar stand age, rather than a lot of the diversity and what foresters like to say heterogeneity – a lot of variability in stand height and age. This creates a more resilient forest to things like drought and things like wildfire, which is really a healthier watershed. Fortunately, when we can have that healthier landscape, it really provides a lot more resources and protection for the communities around it who depend on those forests for economic support as well as for downstream stakeholder groups, like water utilities, power utilities and irrigation districts that rely on that water for their economic sustenance. But it is also part of the system for recreation and a cleaner, healthier environment that we all depend upon.