While Canada is experiencing a record outbreak of fires, land managers across the American West are taking advantage of unseasonably cool, moist weather to burn as much grass and other fuel as they can before the region’s fire season kicks into high gear in late summer and the fall.
“If we can do projects like this in the summer, we can reduce fuel going into the fall,” said Zeke Lunder, a wildfire consultant based in Chico.
The aim of the prescribed burns is to rob natural infernos of the combustible material that has stoked the megafires that have ravaged communities in the region in recent years.
The U.S. West is getting a breather from years of drought following an unusually wet winter. As of June 16, fires have blackened 644,918 acres in the U.S., a little more than half the 10-year average of 1.1 million acres at the same point in time, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The precipitation means there is less chance of large wildfires at high elevations where snow is still melting, but potentially more explosive ones at low elevations where a lot of grass and brush has grown.