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Key Issues for Environmental Issues [Forest Fires]

Environmental Issues
Forest Fires
Pine Beetles, Fire, and Global Warming Mike Dubrasich, Western Institute for Study of the Environment
Abstract: The 2012 fire season in Colorado has been particularly severe. The Waldo Canyon Fire proximate to Colorado Springs is the most destructive in state history, with 18,247 acres burned, 346 homes lost, and two deaths. The High Park Fire near Fort Collins is the second largest in state history, burning 87,284 acres and 259 homes. The Little Sand Fire northwest of Pagosa Springs has burned 24,900 acres in the San Juan National Forest. The Pine Ridge Fire east of Grand Junction burned 13,920 acres. In total 350 fires have burned this year in Colorado; many are as yet uncontained.

Questions arise as to causes. Some have speculated that global warming is a factor. Others point out the pine beetle infestation that has reportedly killed half the state's lodgepole pines across 1.5 million acres, and blame Colorado's fires on that.

But do those speculations have merit? Some facts are in order.

Pine beetle outbreaks have many causes, but warm winter temperatures are not to blame, despite frequent media claims.


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