California Wildfires Highlight Growing Risk To National Parks

It was sobering to see firefighters attempt to keep a wildfire from advancing into the famed Mariposa Grove of huge sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park over the past several weeks.

The fast-moving Oak and Washburn fires reflect the new reality of our parks on a warming planet, and that’s unfortunate. As climate catastrophes become more frequent, Congress has persistently understaffed and underfunded national parks, making it impossible to take preventative steps at an acceptable scale.

The Forest Service intends to speed up sequoia protection beginning this Friday. To avoid irreparable damage, President Joe Biden should consider raising funding for the nation’s national parks when he takes executive action to combat climate change.

As superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, I had previously worked for Yosemite National Park for 34 years.

At the beginning of my profession, I worked in the Mariposa Grove rebuilding historic homes as a log craftsman for long periods. It’s a stunning location. Yosemite National Park’s fire management strategy was later developed by me and I was involved in logistics assistance for multiple wildfires, including the Stanislaus complex fire that burnt about 146,000 acres in 1987 That was a significant blaze when it happened in the past.

Yosemite has always been at risk from wildfires, but climate change has made it easier for them to wreak havoc. As a result, fires burn hotter, faster, and drier conditions. Now, fires may grow to enormous proportions in a fraction of the time they used to take. Park employees, visitors, local businesses, and economies face greater than ever challenges and threats, and the costs are enormous.

The deadly effects of flames worsened by climate change are not limited to Yosemite. Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks, both of which have sequoia groves, were devastated by wildfires in 2013. The world’s largest tree, General Sherman, was encased in a protective blanket because park officials thought it would be a high-profile victim of the blaze.

As much as 1.3 million Joshua trees were wiped off in the Cima Dome fire of 2020, which scorched over 40,000 acres of the California desert, including much of the Mojave National Preserve.

Climate change threatens our national parks in more ways than one. Record-breaking floods wiped away homes and bridges this summer, forcing an emergency evacuation of the entire Yellowstone National Park. Due to rising temperatures, Glacier National Park’s famous glaciers are rapidly disappearing.

Some things can be taken to reduce the increased danger of fires. To prevent wildfires from getting out of control, firefighters can use prescribed burns, which are controlled fires set on purpose to reduce forest fuels like dead leaves. To top it all off, they’re good for the environment as well.

For decades, Congress has regularly underfunded organizations like the National Park Service and the Forest Service, which are responsible for keeping wildfires from becoming out of control. This kind of preventative treatment was a major factor in the success of the huge sequoias in the Mariposa Grove. The Sierra Nevada area is only a small portion of the country, and many other similar areas are in peril as a result.

Even if Congress is unwilling to take action, Vice President Biden should. Investing in preventative measures and reducing carbon pollution are minor steps in the long-term battle against climate change. However, they can help park rangers and firefighters better limit wildfires and protect some of our country’s most popular recreational destinations from destruction.

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About Roman Martin

Roman Martin devoted a significant portion of his life to documenting his passions in print. This sustained him all the way through his master's degree program when he wrote and published a thesis on the semiotics and psychosis in two different horror video games. He has been a horror movie fan ever since he couldn't tie his shoes. Whether or whether he mastered the latter is still up for debate. He is perceptive enough to recognize an important occasion that most people overlooked. Experience roman was the shy kid who always chose to read a Stephen King novel instead of doing his homework. As a fan of the macabre, he preferred spending his time with fictitious characters to his fellow students at any academic level. Not much has changed in this regard, but he did meet his future wife online while playing video games, and they now share their lives with a Husky named Kiryu. roman has presented at the MAPACA pop culture academic conference and has written for Gamepur, Destructoid, Whatculture, and Bleacher Report. Before the end of the year, he hopes to have written his first script. Education roman attended East Stroudsburg University, where he earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English.
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