by Mark McReynolds, A Rocha USA SoCal Project Director
With over 5 million acres (2.25 million hectares) burned in three coastal states and fires dotting the US West, many communities have evacuated, and a few have burnt down – over 1,000 homes are gone. Smoke has created very unhealthy air quality and has been detected in Europe. People want answers. The logging industry is calling for “fuel reduction”, aka logging, which sounds reasonable, but diverts attention from climate change (the driver of increased intense wildfires), from practical steps to save communities, and from evidence that logging makes fires worse.
Our friend Chad Hanson, a fire ecologist with the John Muir Project, says logging does not stop fires. Fires burn hotter and faster in logged forests and do not tend to burn more intensely in dense forests¹ or in forests with high numbers of dead trees². Logging reduces shade, creating hotter, drier, and windier conditions conducive to rapid wildfire spread. Logging also creates local environmental problems and annually emits more carbon than our nation’s residential and commercial sectors combined³ – creating more climate change.
We lament the human losses and, unless we change, more and larger fires are likely a new normal. We are encouraging people to ask their elected officials to address climate change and assist communities to develop protective housing construction and zoning regulations that minimize wildfire effects on people. Logging is not the answer to prevent wildfire tragedies.
Mark Reynolds is A Rocha USA’s SoCal Project Director. He previously led a federally funded, three-year effort to educate teachers on forest issues and has a PhD in Environmental Studies. Much of the material above has come from the John Muir Project via Chad Hanson, who once led Mark on a tour of God’s creation within a “severe” burn area of the Rim Fire in a national forest where officials were intent on logging singed trees for electricity production and bulldozing prolific natural tree regeneration to replant their own nursery-grown trees.
Our SoCal project offers these materials to aid you in bringing this matter before Our Father: short and long liturgies, adapted with permission from Season of Creation’s Brushfire Sunday, and a prayer written by Dr. W. David O. Taylor, an A Rocha friend and Fuller Seminary professor.
Cover Image: Johnathan Green_Pasadena, CA_9/10/2020