Large Fires in the Pacific Northwest: Perspectives on fire exclusion policies, forest health, climate change and post-fire restoration

Ernesto Alvarado (University of Washington)
Monday, March 1, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Speaker: Ernesto Alvarado (University of Washington)
Title: Large Fires in the Pacific Northwest: Perspectives on fire exclusion policies, forest health, climate change and post-fire restoration
For the last two decades, the western US has experienced some of the worst fire seasons since 1910. The area burned by wildfires every year has increased approximately 40% since 2000, exceeding 4 million hectares twice in the last 5 years. Over the same period, the 5-year average decreased from ~92k fires in 2000 to ~72k fires in 2020. However, only less than a dozen fires account for 20 to 60% of yearly area burned. It is not the first time that very large fires have occurred in the west over the centuries. Increasing extreme fire seasons have potential devastating consequences on public health across the United States and regional economic and social impacts.

This seminar will explore some questions related to the occurrence of these very large wildfires in the western US. Some of these have been pondered in the mainstream science community and the media, such as the role of aggressive fire suppression policies, climate change, lack of forest management, and some others that are less discussed such as the extensive land use change after Euro-American colonization of the west and the removal of Native American from their homeland.