U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell meet Tuesday with stewards of regional forest lands to discuss preparations for fighting wildfires this season.
Last year was a record fire season. And with 2016 poised potentially to be the hottest year on record, many experts expect another difficult year for firefighting.
Rising temperatures tied to climate change mean fire season starts earlier, especially in places like drought-ridden Southern California, according to Glen MacDonald, a climate change expert at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“You have fires occurring in January,” he said. “You have major fires occurring in April and May. And that’s because of very warm conditions and very dry conditions in the five-year drought we’ve been experiencing.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, climate change is leading to fire seasons that are, on average, 78 days longer than in 1970.
Longer, more aggressive fire seasons in places like California also require greater resources.
“We’ve had to hire more firefighters, we’ve had to staff more equipment, we’ve had to contract with additional private aircraft — anything and everything to augment the normal staffing that we have,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Berlant said despite some rains in California this winter, he’s still expecting another big wildfire season.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.