Breathtaking and misleading fire story in the Missoulian
“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.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
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