California should rethink wildfires

Published: Friday, Sep. 20, 2013 - 7:09 am

Re "It's time to rethink how we manage our forests" (Viewpoints, Sept. 15): The Rim Fire has finally been contained. While some rationalize a let-it-burn policy, it's time for California and the nation to move beyond one-dimensional thinking and pursue integrated strategies for addressing wildfire in a warmer, drier climate.

Severe wildfires affect the air we breathe. The Rim Fire may go down as the state's largest greenhouse-gas emitting event ever. Let's not forget it was the threat to San Francisco's water supply that prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a state of emergency.

Today's fires most certainly affect tomorrow's water quality and water supply reliability. Well-designed thinning projects reduce the adverse impacts of severe wildfires on multiple resources, including wildlife and fisheries, while the biomass from such projects can contribute to California's renewable, clean energy portfolio. Planning integrated solutions for dynamic forest ecosystems is the only approach that makes sense.

-- Mark S. Rentz, Integrated Natural Resources Management, Sacramento

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