Inside Climate News: "The US Forest Service Planned to Increase Burning to Prevent Wildfires. Will a Pause on Prescribed Fire Instead Bring More Delays?"

A story about the benefits and challenges of prescribed fires includes several quotes from RFF Senior Advisor Ann Bartuska.

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Oct. 11, 2022

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Media Highlight


Inside Climate News

Ann Bartuska, an ecologist and senior advisor at Resources for the Future who once served as the Forest Service’s director of forest management, empathized more with the political bind that followed the conflagration in New Mexico.

“The simplest thing, even if it’s a hard thing to do, is to say, ‘alright, we’re going to stand down,’” said Bartuska. “Taking this pause, I think, was a good idea.”

It’s not the first time a federal burn gone wrong turned public sentiment against prescribed burns. Bartuska sat on a commission assembled after another New Mexico prescribed fire escaped more than two decades ago, destroying hundreds of homes in Los Alamos and threatening the national laboratory that conducts nuclear and other research there. A review of that burn, which caused damages costing about $1 billion, noted problems that “raise questions about the current readiness of the federal land management agencies to effectively support and administer prescribed burns.” Even today, Bartuska said, better data is still needed on fuel, weather and environmental conditions where a burn is taking place to predict how a prescribed fire will behave.

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