The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

"Saving Arizona's threatened landscape," co-authored by Larry Fisher examines the steps needed to protect and restore Arizona's forests

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Arizona’s forests are treasured landscapes that support the quality of life we all enjoy. Our forests provide solace and recreation, drinking water and habitat for wildlife. We’ve grown to expect that Arizona’s forests will remain healthy and resilient for existing and future generations to enjoy.
 
"That future, however, is threatened. Arizona’s forests are facing unprecedented risks that have the potential of forever altering or destroying this treasured landscape.
 
"More than 100 years of scientific research has proven that our forests are overcrowded and overgrown with unnaturally dense thickets of small trees that act as a tinderbox to fuel the next “catastrophic” wildfire. In addition, these small trees compete for rainfall and nutrients with large and old trees —undermining large-tree health and weakening their defenses against insect and disease outbreaks.
 
"Over the last 15 years, science-based forest-thinning treatments have been implemented around forested communities throughout Arizona. In fact, evidence shows that fuel reduction through the removal of trees that surrounded Alpine and Eagar was instrumental in aiding fire suppression efforts that helped protect those communities during the Wallow Fire.
 
"Nevertheless the current pace and scale of thinning our forests doesn’t begin to match the size of the problem. More thinning treatments are needed throughout Arizona’s forests to prevent the large and severe megafires we are experiencing today. The solution is simple: We need to accelerate treatments that will restore forest health and reduce fire risk. If we don’t, the impact of these severe, destructive wildfires will continue to burden Arizona’s economy, communities, industry, recreation, ecosystems, wildlife and our water supplies."
 
Read the full article by Dave Roberts, Wally Covington and SNRE Research Professor Larry Fisher:
http://www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20131124forest-thinning-arizona-threatened-landscape.html