The enormous conflagration known as the Rim Fire was in full fury, raging swiftly from crown to crown among mature trees, when it entered the backcountry of Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada in late August 2013. But inside the park, the battle began to turn, enacting a case study in the way management decisions and drought can combine to fuel large, severe fires.
Before the colonial era, 100,000s of people lived on the land now called California, and many of their cultures manipulated fire to control the availability of plants they used for food, fuel, tools, and ritual. Contemporary tribes continue to use fire to maintain desired habitat and natural resources.
Two years ago, Lee Frelich was sitting in a committee meeting when the idea came to him: the Ecological Society should plant a forest. ESA sets aside $5 for every person attending the Annual Meeting to offset the environmental costs of travel to the meeting location. This year, on Frelich’s advice, the Society wrote a check to a Minnesota non-profit devoted to restoration of local lands and waters.
Saving forests from drought as the climate warms.
Drought complicates the big problems afflicting modern forests. Gordon Grant, Christina Tague, and Craig Allen think that mitigating drought stress should be an active priority for management of US public forests – in keeping with the US Forest Service mission to “improve and protect the forest” and “secure favorable conditions of water flows”.