Environews, Minis

Fires impact Utah’s air quality, damage forest

By Amy Brunvand

In summer 2017, The Utah Division of Air Quality reported an astonishing 32 “red air” days, mostly due to smoke from regional forest fires.

We can expect more bad air days next summer since scientists say that human-caused climate change is driving a trend towards a longer fire season with hotter, longer burning fires.

Unfortunately the intense 2017 fire season has also led the Trump administration to push a fake solution to wildfires—a plan to waive environmental regulations and promote “salvage logging” which creates further damage to forest ecosystems without providing fire protection since fires don’t usually start in the kind of large trees with economically valuable timber.

Fire prevention strategies that do work are creating buffer zones of defensible space around buildings and enacting regulations to require that buildings meet fire-safety standards. Utah State University offers a list of “Firewise Plants for Utah Landscapes.” Policies to address human-caused climate change are also necessary.

More Resources:

Union of Concerned Scientist: Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?

Utah State University: Firewise Plants for Utah Landscapes

This article was originally published on October 4, 2017.