Forest Service Chief Warns To Expect Extreme Fires, Extreme Costs As Forests Destabilize, Burn
The warming climate is breeding more beetle-ravaged forest and prolonged fire seasons, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday, as he fielded questions about the White House’s proposed agency budget for fiscal year 2013.
"We’ve been doing research on the effects of a changing climate to the vegetation on our nation’s forests for over two decades,” he told the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. “When it comes to fire, we’re definitely seeing much longer fire seasons in many parts of the country, another 60 or 70 days longer than what we used to experience.”
The Forest Service is not only dealing with an uptick in the number of wildfires, wind storms, droughts and other extreme weather as a result of climate change. “We’re also seeing much more severe fire behavior than we’ve ever experienced in the past,” Tidwell noted.
The wildfire risk is heightened as beetles make their way through the forests, sucking the life from trees and leaving dead, dried wood in their wake. The expansion of bark beetles “has started to slow a little bit,” he said, but “we’re still seeing about an additional 600,000 acres infested each year, so we’re going to have to continue to maintain this focus for the next few years.”