Be aware, <<First Name>>.
Now standing in forests near you: Zombie Trees.
It’s not another warmed-over Hollywood horror flick, but an all-too-real problem that disproportionately affects federally managed forestland in Washington.
Based on data gathered by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Forest Service as of 2013, more than 20% of the trees on federal forestland in Washington are dead and standing in place, quite literally, zombie trees. That’s twice as many as on sustainably managed, privately owned forestland.
Preventing wildfires is a goal we all share. The high percentage of zombie trees on federal forestland make them hot-spots for risk of runaway wildfires.
Zombie trees --- dead, dry and massive --- are an optimal fuel source for a fire seeking to get bigger.
As we know from the historic fires of 2014, when wildfire risks become runaway wildfire realities, the devastation is heart-wrenching and costly. And the 2015 season is already off to a devastating start.
Has enough been done to lessen the risk of runaway, catastrophic wildfires on federally managed lands?
Active management including selective thinning and salvage logging of zombie trees on managed lands are two aspects of a smart and responsible fire mitigation plan.
Clearing forests of fuel that smaller fires need to grow into monstrous blazes may be the key to preventing mass deforestation like what we saw across the state in 2014 when blazes like the Carlton Complex Fire grabbed national headlines.
Across the state, private forestland, state forests, tribal lands and federal forests share boundaries, but fires don’t respect lines on a map. We’re all in this together.
-Your Friends in Working Forests