Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Climate

In this recent (9/22/21) talk, research ecologist Chad Hanson challenges many mainstream assumptions, such as that “overgrown” and “unmanaged” forests lead to more damaging wildfires. In fact, Hanson claims that logged (ie thinned) areas lead to more dangerous intense wildfires, and were partly responsible for the losses of Paradise as well as Greenville.

He asserts that denser forests are not more fire prone, due in part to their ability to store moisture and tamp down winds. Downed logs actually store water even in drought and clearing them reduces habitat and water storage. Hanson argues that forests should generally be left alone but natural fires should be allowed to burn, away from communities in moderate fire weather. He also recommends aggressive fire clearing, hardening and defensible space around homes and communities. Hanson’s clear-headed reference to facts and studies lends credibility to his claims, which, if true, would raise serious questions about our current fire management approach.

We are considering this (and other) information and fine-tuning our forest policy, so we welcome all to join the discussion. Hanson’s book is called “Smokescreen” if you want to check it out. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or contact us to join our discussion list.