Less than a year after Washington state committed $328 million toward reducing the impacts of climate-charged catastrophic wildfire and improving forest health, the U.S. Forest Service announced a plan liable to supercharge that effort.

Mark Swanson.

“If we want to have stands of large, old ponderosa pine or western larch, or huckleberry fields, healthy and diverse wildlife habitats, and watershed integrity, then we need to emulate the processes that created the complex, fire-driven mosaics of the past. This plan promises to elevate the rate of work necessary to accomplish that goal,” says Mark Swanson, a fire ecology researcher and associate professor of silviculture and landscape ecology in the Washington State University School of the Environment.

Swanson appreciates that the Forest Service has multiple tools to choose from when figuring out how to make forests more fire resilient. Prescribed fires aren’t feasible in every forest, and pruning and thinning aren’t always appropriate options.

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