Lodgepole pine forest in Yellowstone National Park - naturally dense with a large, high-intensity fires representing the natural fire regime.
Every Forest is Different
We are currently reviewing research on forest fires in mixed-conifer and ponderosa pine forests and will provide an updated summary soon. In the mean time, here are some points to consider:
1. Depending on the location, the following past abuses damaged many of our forests:
- over-grazing by sheep and/or cattle which removed grasses that would have carried low-intensity surface fires. - logging which destroyed and opened up old-growth forests, causing dense forest growth. - fire suppression has allowed unnatural amounts of vegation to build up in low to mid elevation mixed conifer and dry ponderosa pine forests.
2. Large, high-severity fires are causing serious damage to dry ponderosa forests in Arizona and New Mexico. The conifers are NOT regenerating.
3. Global climate change is raising temperatures in many forested areas in North America. Higher temperatures contributes to increased tree mortality, lengthening fire seasons, and increasing the number of large, high-intensity fires.
4. Forests that naturally have large, high-intensity fires like the lodgepole pine forest shown in the photo above, have generally not suffered the same kind of damage that we have caused in dry ponderosa and mixed-conifer forests.