Wildfire smoke impacting the nation – how forest management can be adjusted to help

Forest fire smoke spreads far and is extremely hazardous to human health, especially for those with preexisting heart and lung conditions.

Massive climate crisis related wildfires have sprung up all over Canada, causing terrible air quality in large sections of the Northern Hemisphere, including most of New England and the east coast of the U.S. 

UPHE co-hosted a presentation last week with the John Muir Project on how current forest management practices are counterproductive to reducing wildfire severity. Currently, the Forest Services engages in large-scale “thinning” projects which support timber and logging industries. Studies have shown that these practices are not helpful in reducing spread or severity of wildfires. We cannot “thin our way out of climate related wildfire disaster.” Thinning is after all, just another term for deforestation, which we know is nearly as much of a contributor to the climate crisis as fossil fuel combustion.

Current Forest Service fire management practices include “thinning” which is a thinly veiled partnership with the logging industry.

The presentation covered how Forest Service studies have excluded information and used biased methods to support the current practice, as well as the human health effect of controlled burns. 

Instead of thinning the forests in Utah and the American West in a futile and counterproductive gesture to stop wildfires, Utah should be part of the actual solution in reducing our dependence on dirty energy. We can start by admitting that quadrupling oil and gas production in the Uinta Basin by building the Uinta Basin Railway, was a terrible idea in the first place, but becomes even more so with each passing day.

This issue hits close to home for many, as we are often impacted by wildfire smoke. We can expect the issue to continue and worsen if we don’t advocate for better forest management and climate practices. 

More on wildfires impacting east coast air quality.

Forest Management Presentation

Comments can be sent to Joel Ferry, Utah Department of Natural Resources Director
Governor Cox
Field-level DNR employees: