Collaborative efforts to improve the state of Southwestern forests

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Throughout history, fire has played a major role in shaping and maintaining ecosystems and changes in fire policies have has contributed to overall unhealthy forests with increased susceptibility to massive wildfires. Early fire policies were geared toward full fire suppression while policies of today recognize the importance of fire in an ecosystem. The U.S. government, along with regional and local agencies, pays billions of dollars annually to extinguish wildfires and on post wildfire cleanup. The amount of forest land burned over the decades has increased, and the intensity and frequency of wildfires are expected to worsen due to many factors, including climate change and urban encroachment (Dellasala et al., 2004). People nationwide are advocating for funding bills which would provide more federal dollars to integrate hazardous fuels reduction into management plans, but is fuel reduction the best method for mitigating forest fires? Ecosystems vary from place to place in many different aspects including: forest type, the requirements for biological maintenance, in the historic role that fire has played in an area, in the effects that past management practices have had, and in climate and local weather variability. Because of this variability, fuel reduction treatments may be beneficial in some forests but not in others. In order to maximize taxpayer dollars and minimize harmful environmental effects that may result from applying fuel treatments where they are not necessary, a local and regional approach to assessing the needs of a forest must to be taken. Background The current state of forests in the U.S., more specifically forests of the southwest (CO, NM, UT, AZ), is a reflection of many factors including land u... ... middle of paper ... ...Ecological Applications 12.5 (2002): 1418-1433. ProQuest. Web. 28 April 2014. Dellasala,D.A., Williams,J.E., Williams,C.D, and Franklin,J.S., “Beyond smoke and mirrors: a synthesis of fire policy and science” Conservation Biology18.4 (2004): 976-986. ProQuest. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. Graham, R.T. (ed.), “ Hayman Fire Case Study” USDA RMRS, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-114 (2003): 1-396. Google Scholar. Web. 5 May 2014. Reinhardt, E.D., Keane, R.E., Calkin, D.E., and Cohen, J.D., “Objectives and considerations for wildland fuel treatment in forested ecosystems of the interior western United States” Forest Ecology and Management 256 (2008): 1997–2006. ProQuest. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. Schoennagel, T., Veblen, T.T., and Romme, W.H., “The Interaction of Fire, Fuels, and Climate across Rocky Mountain Forests” BioScience 54 (2004): 661-676. Google Scholar. Web. 5 May 2014.
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