As of July 7, wildfires have consumed nearly 3.2 million acres throughout the country, and have impacted states from Alaska to Florida. Only a few thousand acres have been torched in prescribed burns designed to mitigate larger incidents.

posted by Marjorie Haun

Earlier this year Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and other Midwestern states suffered catastrophic damage to range lands, property, homes and thousands of animals from massive wildfires. The ranchers, farmers and small communities impacted by these fires are still struggling to recover, and losses continue to add up. At least 6 people died, and thousands of cattle were killed by the fires that covered nearly 2 million acres.

New York Times photo

As of July 7, wildfires have consumed nearly 3.2 million acres throughout the country, and have impacted states from Alaska to Florida. Only a few thousand acres have been torched in prescribed burns designed to mitigate larger incidents.

According to the government’s wildfire incident information website, Inciweb, active wildfires–those not fully contained, and still growing in many cases–cover 846,300 acres, and most are on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The ten largest active fires are:

West Mims Fire: 152, 515 acres (mostly contained) Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Truckee Fire: Nevada 70,546 acres, grass and brush in Washoe County

Photo from Wildfire Today

Brian Head Fire: 68, 407 acres Dixie National Forest, Southwestern Utah (75% contained)

Brian Head Fire Inciweb

 

Southwest Alaska Fires: 68,798 acres, 16 active fires in Southwest Alaska

Inciweb photo

Frye Fire: 47,688 acres, Arizona, Coronado National Forest (66% contained)

Inciweb photo

Sutherland Canyon Fire: 37,716 acres, Chelan, Grant and Douglas Counties, Washington  (90% contained)

Inciweb photo

Silver Dollar Fire: 30,984 acres, Yakima, Benton Counties, Washington (mostly contained)

Inciweb photo

Goodwin Fire: 28,516 acres (mostly contained) Prescott National Forest, Arizona

Inciweb photo

Earthstone Fire: 26,785 acres, near Sparks, Nevada (30% contained)

Inciweb photo

 

Burro Fire: 25,090 acres, Arizona, Coronado National Forest (11% contained)

Inciweb photo

 

The 2017 season may overtake 2015’s record for wildfires during which over 10 million acres burned. Whether monsoon rains in the southwest help slow the pace of wildfires, or high temperatures and dry conditions persist, is yet to be seen, but the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to prevent this level of wildfire devastation in future years with legislation that will restore practical science to forest management. The Resilient Federal Forests Act will address the massive fuel loads in national forests which have been allowed to accumulate because of neglectful management and fear of lawsuits from environmental special interests. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources summarized the problem this way: “Our forest health crisis can no longer be neglected. Active management is needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve the health and resiliency of our forests and grasslands. More money alone is not the solution. This comprehensive forest management package solves the fire-borrowing problem and gives federal land managers immediate tools to increase the pace and scale of management and restoration projects.”


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