The Devastation of Poor Forest Management


Provided By Daniel Egleston

James Jensen, Reporter

With 4.4 million acres burnt in this year, California is dealing with the worst fire season in state history. With a running total from the time I write this, there have been 8,155 fires. To put this into perspective, California has around 100 million acres of land, and in the past three months, a little more than 4% of that has burnt. 

In my opinion, this stems from 70 plus years of the mismanagement of California’s forests. We have seen warning signs of what California could throw at us in terms of fires for years. With the Camp Fire in Paradise, nearly destroying the entire community and displacing thousands, to the many more fires that have been becoming increasingly deadly throughout the past few decades.

I’ve seen examples of good forest management through my family being in the forestry business since the 1970s. My grandfather was the CEO of the YMCA camps at Sequoia Lake in California. This organization teamed up with the Reedley College Forestry Program to clear the dead trees and underbrush from the area surrounding the camps. It’s important to clear the underbrush because it sucks up the water that is needed for the larger trees. Without enough water, the trees will become more susceptible to the bark beetle when it kills the trees and leaves them like matches in the forest waiting to be struck.

When the rough fire raged through the sequoia national park, the area surrounding the Sequoia Lake was safe. This was all because of the work done by the forestry program.

The fires happening in California do not just affect us. There are reports that cities across the Rocky Mountains from us have worse air quality because the smoke is being collected in their communities. These smoke from these fires have also made their way into Europe. 

When we think about the fires, it’s not just monetary smoke that will go away. This smoke, sense there is some much of it will inevitably increase global temperatures by unknown numbers. This all stems from how we focus on fixing issues with our fossil fuels and other things of that nature that lead to global warming, but not on the sleeping giant.

The sleeping giant is the forests of America. We are burning our country to the ground by not dealing with the issues that might not seem relevant at the time but will become relevant when nearly 5% of the state has been burnt in one year. In many aspects, we should look to the Native Americans for how American lands should be managed. Every year they would burn the underbrush in the forest so that new trees could grow and crops could be planted. They worked with nature instead of leading it to fend for itself.

In California and our surrounding states, our legislature needs to make a comprehensive plan on how to better manage the forest. Our current system is not working and cannot be sustained any longer. There is too much death and destruction for California not to act. When people hear the evacuation order they flee not knowing if they will ever see their home and memories again.