Above: The High Park Fire in Poudre Canyon about 15 miles from Ft. Collins, Colo., June 18, 2012. (Official Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jess Geffre/RELEASED)
A University of Colorado fire ecologist testified during a Congressional hearing this week that climate change stands to exacerbate fire size and intensity in the West.
The Wednesday hearing — previewed in this memo — focused on “the impacts of wildfire, disease and infestation on America’s overgrown and fire-prone federal forest lands and the need to significantly increase forest management activities to improve the health of our nation’s forests.”
Among those called to testify:
- Dr. John Ball, professor and forest health specialist at South Dakota State University
- Steven A. Brink, vice president of public resources for the California Forestry Association
- James L. Cummins, executive director of Wildlife Mississippi
- Dr. Tania Schoennagel, Department of Geography and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado.
Schoennagel said increasing temperatures, drought, and earlier snow melt lead to longer fire seasons and increased fire risk.
“That warming and drying is going to translate to more area burned across the west,” Schoennagel said, as quoted in a wrap-up piece on the hearing by the Durango Herald newspaper in Colorado. “We will also see more drought-related mortality.”
The full video of the two-hour hearing — “Seeking Better Management of America’s Overgrown, Fire-Prone National Forests” — is available below.