The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands discussed wildfire resilience at its most recent meeting. Wildfires in California have been particularly devastating in recent years, burning millions of acres, destroying ecosystems, and emitting millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide. Fifth-generation cattle producer from Butte County, Dave Daley testified before the subcommittee that a more localized approach to the issue of wildfire is neeed.
“I think part of this is really recognizing that we have regional and ecosystem differences and that it is not one-size-fits-all,” Daley testified. “That requires use to listen to local input in terms of what we should do and that’s the people who live and work on the land and in the communities that are most affected.”
The ‘Wildfire in a Warming World: Opportunities to Improve Community Collaboration, Climate Resilience, and Workforce Capacity’ hearing highlighted approaches to help mitigate the impact of wildfires. “Although I’m a cattleman, I don’t think it’s a solution everywhere. But I do think it’s a solution,” Daley said of increasing grazing practices in overgrown lands. Several studies have shown the tremendous impact that targeted grazing can have on reducing fuel loads. Daley explained that active land management practices like prescribed burning can also be an important tool for mitigating wildfire.
Speaking as an educator, cattleman, and victim of catastrophic wildfire, Daley described the devastation caused by the 2020 Bear Fire. The ecosystem of the Plumas National Forest “will not recover in my lifetime,” Daley noted. There are also concerns as to how massive wildfires will impact water supplies as the ecosystem slowly regenerated. Daley expressed frustration with the bureaucratic process for improving wildfire resilience, as the issue is bigger than partisan politics.
“This isn’t about retreating to corners about who’s right. This is about finding solutions,” Daley noted. “We could spend a lot of time arguing what caused it, but I would really prefer we think about some solutions instead.”