“Red and dead” forests make extreme fires; but most bug-killed forests are not in this stage-

Beetle-ravaged trees change wildfire behavior in western Montana. By Rob Chaney the Missoulian

Beetles are changing the fire regime in Western Montana. Unfortunately, this story did not get to the key until the end – – “Dead trees will lose those red needles within three to five years. The bare-branch trees tend to be less burnable than either green live trees or red dead ones.” . . . Rob Chaney

These needles are so flammable that they will burn when dripping wet and a cold temperature! In fact, most just killed, and, therefore red lodgepole pine, the most common beetle killed tree, are red for just one year. Then the needles drop. As a result, most dead trees present less of a fire danger rather than more. There are exceptions, such as piles of windthrown, jackstrawed dead timber.

The story also failed to mention that this is not a problem limited to Western Montana. The great die-off extends from the Yukon to New Mexico, making local efforts to deal with the problem with salvage logging or spraying of no use.

I’d mention global warming but all the tea partiers will probably jump down my throat. It’s really too late to do much. The pine forests are pretty much all going to die.

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Related. Weather wipes out wildfires in Montana. Great Falls Tribune.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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