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‘One of the slowest wildfire seasons in years has come to an end in the West’



I heard hardly any of that Dante’s Inferno rhetoric this past summer. Why was that?

The fire season in the American West came and…just kinda went.

WSJ: Wildfire Season in U.S. West Ends With Fewer Blazes, Less Damage – Rain and cooler temperatures bring drop in number of acres burned this year

One of the slowest wildfire seasons in years has come to an end in the West thanks to well-timed rain and cooler temperatures, bringing a reprieve to a region hit by numerous destructive blazes over the past several years.

…November rains effectively doused the season in California, where 362,403 acres have burned this year through Monday, compared with 2.6 million over the same period in 2021 and a five-year annual average of 2.2 million, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

A strong monsoon season also kept fire activity below normal in states such as Arizona, where 160,770 acres have burned compared with 524,428 last year, according to the Southwest Coordination Center, an interagency fire group.

In an area that covers Nevada, Utah and parts of Idaho and Wyoming, 423,345 acres have burned this year, compared with a five-year annual average of 1.2 million, according to the Great Basin Coordination Center, another interagency fire group.

…According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 69% of the West is currently experiencing drought conditions, down from 91% a year ago.

Don’t you think a good year after such terrible times would be worth a mention somewhere?

Guess not. They’re not out of the woods by any stretch, but the easier season has given them a break that firefighters desperately needed, loads of equipment has been updated, they have a chance to train, and they are starting on forest fire management much earlier than they usually can – clearing brush, cutting trees, etc.

…Federal officials have set a goal of thinning work up to 50 million acres of land over the next decade. Respite from fires this year will make it easier for that work to continue.

Attitudes are rapidly shifting to the time-honored way of forest management – clearing and thinning are coming back in vogue in federal forests. It remains to be seen what California will allow.