Fire danger in the high mountains is intensifying: That’s bad news for humans, treacherous for the environment

Fires are increasing in high mountain areas that rarely burned in the past. John McColgan, Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Fire Service

by Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Mojtaba Sadegh, Boise State University

As wildfire risk rises in the West, wildland firefighters and officials are keeping a closer eye on the high mountains – regions once considered too wet to burn.

The growing fire risk in these areas became startling clear in 2020, when Colorado’s East Troublesome Fire burned up and over the Continental Divide to become the state’s second-largest fire on record. The following year, California’s Dixie Fire became the first on record to burn across the Sierra Nevada’s crest and start down the other side.

We study wildfire behavior as climate scientists and engineers. In a new study, we show that fire risk has intensified in every region across the West over the past four decades, but the sharpest upward trends are in the high elevations.

Fire burns in the mountains above a building and ranch fence.
In 2020, Colorado’s East Troublesome fire jumped the Continental Divide. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

High mountain fires can create a cascade of risks for local ecosystems and for millions of people living farther down the mountains.

Since cooler, wetter high mountain landscapes rarely burn, vegetation and dead wood can build up, so highland fires tend to be intense and uncontrollable. They can affect everything from water quality and the timing of meltwater that communities and farmers rely on, to erosion that can bring debris and mud flows. Ultimately, they can change the hydrology, ecology and geomorphology of the highlands, with complex feedback loops that can transform mountain landscapes and endanger human safety.

Four decades of rising fire risk

Historically, higher moisture levels and cooler temperatures created a flammability barrier in the highlands. This enabled fire managers to leave fires that move away from human settlements and up mountains to run their course without interference. Fire would hit the flammability barrier and burn out.

However, our findings show that’s no longer reliable as the climate warms.

We analyzed fire danger trends in different elevation bands of the Western U.S. mountains from 1979 to 2020. Fire danger describes conditions that reflect the potential for a fire to ignite and spread.

Over that 42-year period, rising temperatures and drying trends increased the number of critical fire danger days in every region in the U.S. West. But in the highlands, certain environmental processes, such as earlier snowmelt that allowed the earth to heat up and become drier, intensified the fire danger faster than anywhere else. It was particularly stark in high-elevation forests from about 8,200 to 9,800 feet (2,500-3,000 meters) in elevation, just above the elevation of Aspen, Colorado.

Chart showing changing wildfire risks in the high mountains
Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, CC BY

We found that the high-elevation band had gained on average 63 critical fire danger days a year by 2020 compared with 1979. That included 22 days outside the traditional warm season of May to September. In previous research, we found that high-elevation fires had been advancing upslope in the West at about 25 feet (7.6 meters) per year.

Cascading risks for humans downstream

Mountains are water towers of the world, providing 70% of the runoff that cities across the West rely on. They support millions of people who live downstream.

High-elevation fires can have a significant impact on snow accumulation and meltwater, even long after they have burned out.

For example, fires remove vegetation cover and tree canopies, which can shorten the amount of time the snowpack stays frozen before melting. Soot from fires also darkens the snow surface, increasing its ability to absorb the Sun’s energy, which facilitates melting. Similarly, darkened land surface increases the absorption of solar radiation and heightens soil temperature after fires.

The result of these changes can be spring flooding, and less water later in the summer when communities downstream are counting on it.

Fire-driven tree loss also removes anchor points for the snowpack, increasing the frequency and severity of avalanches.

A burned area on a mountain ridge with a large reservoir far below.
Wildfire burn scars can have many effects on the water quality and quantity reaching communities below. George Rose/Getty Images

Frequent fires in high-elevation areas can also have a significant impact on the sediment dynamics of mountain streams. The loss of tree canopy means rainfall hits the ground at a higher velocity, increasing the potential for erosion. This can trigger mudslides and increase the amount of sediment sent downstream, which in turn can affect water quality and aquatic habitats.

Erosion linked to runoff after fire damage can also deepen streams to the point that excess water from storms can’t spread in high-elevation meadows and recharge the groundwater; instead, they route the water quickly downstream and cause flooding.

Hazards for climate-stressed species and ecosystems

The highlands generally have long fire return intervals, burning once every several decades if not centuries. Since they don’t burn often, their ecosystems aren’t as fire-adapted as lower-elevation forests, so they may not recover as efficiently or survive repeated fires.

Studies show that more frequent fires could change the type of trees that grow in the highlands or even convert them to shrubs or grasses.

A team of pack mules carries supplies up a high mountain in Glacier National Park. Some of the trees have burned, even at this high elevation.
High-elevation tree species like whitebark pines face an increasing risk of blister rust infections and mountain pine beetle infestations that can kill trees, creating more fuel for fires. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Wet mountain areas, with their cooler temperatures and higher precipitation, are often peppered with hot spots of biodiversity and provide refuges to various species from the warming climate. If these areas lose their tree canopies, species with small ranges that depend on cold-water mountain streams can face existential risks as more energy from the Sun heats up stream water in the absence of tree shading.

While the risk is rising fastest in the high mountains, most of the West is now at increasing risk of fires. With continuing greenhouse gas emissions fueling global warming, this trend of worsening fire danger is expected to intensify further, straining firefighting resources as crews battle more blazes.

Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Mojtaba Sadegh, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Boise State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How wildfire smoke can harm human health, even when the fire is hundreds of miles away – a toxicologist explains

The sunset in Jersey City, N.J., glows orange through smoke from wildfires in Canada in May 2023. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

by Christopher T. Migliaccio, University of Montana

Smoke from more than 200 wildfires burning across Canada has been turning skies hazy in North American cities far from the flames. We asked Chris Migliaccio, a toxicologist at the University of Montana who studies the impact of wildfire smoke on human health, about the health risks people can face when smoke blows in from distant wildfires.

What’s in wildfire smoke that’s a problem?

When we talk about air quality, we often talk about PM2.5. That’s particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller – small enough that it can travel deep into the lungs.

Exposure to PM2.5 from smoke or other air pollution, such as vehicle emissions, can exacerbate health conditions like asthma and reduce lung function in ways that can worsen existing respiratory problems and even heart disease.

But the term PM2.5 only tells you about size, not composition – what is burning can make a significant difference in the chemistry.

A map of North America shows where wildfire smoke from fires in Alberta, Canada, was forecast to blow across the U.S. and eastern Canada. Light smoke reaches as far south as northern Texas and Tennessee.
Smoke from wildfires in Canada on May 21, 2023, was visible across a large part of the U.S. FireSmoke Canada

In the northern Rockies, where I live, most fires are fueled by vegetation, but not all vegetation is the same. If the fire is in the wildland urban interface, manufactured fuels from homes and vehicles may also be burning, and that’s going to create its own toxic chemistry. Chemists usually talk about volatile organic compounds, (VOCs), carbon monoxide and PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons produced when biomass and other matter burns having the potential to harm human health.

How does inhaling wildfire smoke harm human health?

Illustration of a small section of lungs showing the alveoli and, within the alveoli, a close up of a microphage
Where macrophages are found in alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lungs.

If you have ever been around a campfire and got a blast of smoke in your face, you probably had some irritation. With exposure to wildfire smoke, you might also get some irritation in the nose and throat and maybe some inflammation.

As with a lot of things, the dose makes the poison – almost anything can be harmful at a certain dose.

Generally, cells in the lungs called alveolar macrophages will pick up the particulates and clear them out – at reasonable doses. It’s when the system gets overwhelmed that you can have a problem.

One concern is that smoke can suppress macrophage function, altering it enough that you become more susceptible to respiratory infection. A colleague who looked at lag time in the effect of wildfire smoke exposure found an increase in influenza cases after a bad fire season. Studies in developing countries have also found increases in respiratory infections with people who are cooking on open fires in homes.

The stress of an inflammatory response can also exacerbate existing health problems. Being exposed to wood smoke won’t independently cause someone to have a heart attack, but if they have underlying risk factors, such as significant plaque buildup, the added stress can increase the risk.

Researchers are also studying potential effects on the brain and nervous system from inhaled particulate matter.

When smoke blows over long distances, does its toxicity change?

We know that the chemistry of wildfire smoke changes. The longer it’s in the atmosphere, the more the chemistry will be altered by ultraviolet light, but we still have a lot to learn.

Researchers have found that there seems to be a higher level of oxidation, so oxidants and free radicals are being generated the longer smoke is in the air. The specific health effects aren’t yet clear, but there’s some indication that more exposure leads to greater health effects.

The supposition is that more free radicals are generated the longer smoke is in atmosphere and exposed to UV light, so there’s a greater potential for health harm. A lot of that, again, comes down to dose.

A photo looking out at the Denver skyline shows a very hazy cities.
Denver was listed among the world’s worst cities for air pollution on May 19, 2023, largely because of the wildfire smoke from Canada. Colorado Air Pollution Control Division

Chances are, if you’re a healthy individual, going for a bike ride or a hike in light haze won’t be a big deal, and your body will be able to recover.

If you’re doing that every day for a month in wildfire smoke, however, that raises more concerns. I’ve worked on studies with residents at Seeley Lake in Montana who were exposed to hazardous levels of PM2.5 from wildfire smoke for 49 days in 2017. We found a decrease in lung function a year later. No one was on oxygen, but there was a significant drop.

This is a relatively new area of research, and there’s still a lot we’re learning, especially with the increase in wildfire activity as the planet warms.

What precautions can people take to reduce their risk from wildfire smoke?

If there is smoke in the air, you want to decrease your exposure.

Can you completely avoid the smoke? Not unless you’re in a hermetically sealed home. The PM levels aren’t much different indoors and out unless you have a really good HVAC system, such as those with MERV 15 or better filters. But going inside decreases your activity, so your breathing rate is slower and the amount of smoke you’re inhaling is likely lower.

A satellite animation shows smoke moving from fires in Alberta across Canada and into New England.
A satellite captures wildfire smoke on May 16, 2023. NASA EarthData

We also tend to advise people that if you’re in a susceptible group, such as those with asthma, create a safe space at home and in the office with a high-level stand-alone air filtration system to create a space with cleaner air.

Some masks can help. It doesn’t hurt to have a high-quality N95 mask. Just wearing a cloth mask won’t do much, though.

Most states have air quality monitors that can give you a sense of how bad the air quality is, so check those sites and act accordingly.

Christopher T. Migliaccio, Research Associate Professor in Toxicology, University of Montana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

To help dry forests, fire needs to be just the right intensity, and happen more than once

Read the full story from Oregon State University.

Research into the ability of a wildfire to improve the health of a forest uncovered a Goldilocks effect — unless a blaze falls in a narrow severity range, neither too hot nor too cold, it isn’t very good at helping forest landscapes return to their historical, more fire-tolerant conditions.

The West’s iconic forests are increasingly struggling to recover from wildfires – altering how fires burn could boost their chances

Hotter-burning fires and a warming climate make it harder for seedlings to survive. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

by Kimberley Davis, United States Forest Service; Jamie Peeler, University of Montana, and Philip Higuera, University of Montana

Wildfires and severe drought are killing trees at an alarming rate across the West, and forests are struggling to recover as the planet warms. However, new research shows there are ways to improve forests’ chances of recovery – by altering how wildfires burn.

In a new study, we teamed up with over 50 other fire ecologists to examine how forests have recovered – or haven’t – in over 10,000 locations after 334 wildfires.

Together, these sites offer an unprecedented look at how forests respond to wildfires and global warming.

Our results are sobering. We found that conifer tree seedlings, such as Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine, are increasingly stressed by high temperatures and dry conditions in sites recovering from wildfires. In some sites, our team didn’t find any seedlings at all. That’s worrying, because whether forests recover after a wildfire depends in large part on whether new seedlings can establish themselves and grow.

However, our team also found that if wildfires burn less intensely, forests will have a better shot at regrowing. Our study, published March 6, 2023, highlights how proactive efforts that modify how wildfires burn can help buffer seedlings from some of the biggest stressors of global warming.

Intense fires overwhelm trees’ protective traits

Forests and wildfire have coexisted in the West for millennia.

Typically, forests have regrown after wildfires, thanks to an amazing set of traits that trees possess. Lodgepole pine, for example, stores thousands of seeds in closed cones sealed with resin, that only open in the presence of high heat from flames, triggering abundant regrowth. Other tree species, like ponderosa pine, have thick bark that helps them survive low-intensity wildfires.

Intense or very large “megafires” can overwhelm those traits, though. Most conifer tree species in the West depend on seeds from surviving trees to jump-start recovery following wildfire. So when intense wildfires kill most of the trees, entire expanses of forest can be lost.

Even if some trees do survive a wildfire and can provide seeds, seedlings require favorable climate conditions to establish and grow. Unlike adult trees with deep root systems, seedlings have short roots that only reach water in the top layer of soil. Seedlings are also more sensitive to summer temperatures because hot temperatures can actually kill their live cells.

Seedlings struggling to establish after wildfires

Hotter and drier conditions due to global warming are leading to more area burning. Global warming is also interacting with over a century of wildfire suppression and restrictions on Indigenous fire stewardship, which has left denser forests and more underbrush as fuel. And that is leading to more severe wildfires.

It’s also becoming harder for seedlings to establish and grow after wildfires.

We found that from 1981 to 2000, 95% of our study region had climate conditions suitable for seedlings to establish and grow after wildfires. Fast forward to 2050 and this decreases to 74%, even under modest warming where global average temperatures increase by around 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 Celsius).

How these changes unfold varies across the West. Today, seedlings are least likely to establish and grow after wildfires in the Southwest and California. However, the wetter and cooler regions of the northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest still support seedling establishment and growth.

Survivor trees are crucial for sheltering seedlings

By studying both how severely wildfires burn – for example, how many trees are killed – and how climate conditions after a wildfire affect new seedlings, our team found a surprising and hopeful result.

Even when summers are hotter and drier after a wildfire than in the past, just having trees around that survived a fire helps new seedlings establish and grow.

A forest service employee walks up a hill among burned ponderosa pines with no seedlings visible.
Only a quarter of the 900,000 seedlings planted after the 2009 Station Fire in the Angeles National Park were still alive a year later. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Besides providing seeds, surviving trees reduce temperatures on the ground, where it matters most to seedlings. In some cases, temperatures can be 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler (2.2 to 2.8 C) around surviving trees, giving seedlings the edge needed to germinate and survive.

In our study, projections of future forests varied dramatically, depending on how many trees we assumed survived future wildfires.

Altering how wildfires burn can boost recovery

This means there is an opportunity to help offset some climate-driven declines in tree recovery – by reducing the number of trees killed in wildfires.

Reversing global warming is a long-term challenge for society, and some near-term impacts are already irreversible. But reducing the number of trees killed in wildfires can help maintain future forests. In regions where seedlings are already struggling after wildfire, such actions are needed sooner rather than later.

Science supports the use of a number of tools, or forest treatments, that can help decrease the number of trees killed by wildfires.

Controlled burning with forest thinning or cultural burning by local Indigenous groups removes small trees and brush. That leads to fewer trees killed in subsequent fires, especially in forests that historically burned frequently. In high-elevation forests that historically experienced less frequent but more severe wildfires, planting trees after wildfires can help jump-start forest recovery.

Although forest treatments are effective, wildfires burn much more area than can be feasibly treated. Given this, fire scientists suggest letting some wildfires burn when conditions are safe and more likely to leave surviving trees on the landscape.

Expanding the use of wildfires and controlled burning as management tools is challenging, but the evidence suggests it may be one of the most effective and economical ways to reduce the number of trees killed by future wildfires.

There are clear ways to lessen the impacts of global warming and wildfires on seedlings and future forests. But in some areas, even as we work to reverse global warming, the window of opportunity is short. In these areas, forest treatments that modify wildfire or jump-start recovery will be most effective in the next few decades, setting up seedlings to better withstand near-term warming.

Kimberley Davis, Research Ecologist, United States Forest Service; Jamie Peeler, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Montana, and Philip Higuera, Professor of Fire Ecology, University of Montana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Western forests three times the size of Yellowstone could be transformed by midcentury

Read the full story at The Hill.

Hotter and drier conditions are destroying the ability of many Western conifer forests to spring back after wildfires, a new study has found.

The onslaught of destructive fire and climate change risks turning an area of Western forests three times the size of Yellowstone National Park — about 2.2 million acres — into ecosystems where pine, spruce and fir seedlings cannot grow, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But deliberately set, lower-intensity fires offer a way out, researchers noted — and added that this is a method that the U.S. Forest Service had embraced after a long history of fighting all wildfires.

Webinar: Wildland Fire Research to Protect Health and the Environment

Mar 15, 2023, 2 pm CT
Register here.

The west and other parts of the US have experienced significant forest fires in recent years. These fires have been devastating to infrastructure, yet there is limited knowledge of the human health impacts of smoke emissions — both short term and long term. EPA is using its expertise in air quality research to fill the gaps in scientific information and to develop tools to prevent and reduce the impact of smoke from wildfires and controlled or prescribed burns. 

EPA will offer an update on Wildland Fire Research to Protect Health and the Environment. Research includes wildfire impacts on human health and ecosystems, a comparative assessment of air quality and public health impacts from prescribed fire and wildfire smoke (CAIF), air sensors for smoke monitoring applications, an EPA air sensor loan program (WSMART), resources on indoor air filtration during smoke events (Wildfire-ASPIRE), and communication strategies to enhance local readiness for wildfires (Smoke Ready Communities). 

Learn more

Gentrification by fire

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The West’s new climate is exacerbating housing inequality in the quintessentially blue state of California.

Western wildfires destroyed 246% more homes and buildings over the past decade – fire scientists explain what’s changing

The fire risk goes beyond rising temperatures and dry conditions. Samuel Corum / AFP via Getty Images

by Philip Higuera, University of Montana; Jennifer Balch, University of Colorado Boulder; Maxwell Cook, University of Colorado Boulder, and Natasha Stavros, University of Colorado Boulder

It can be tempting to think that the recent wildfire disasters in communities across the West were unlucky, one-off events, but evidence is accumulating that points to a trend.

In a new study, we found a 246% increase in the number of homes and structures destroyed by wildfires in the contiguous Western U.S. between the past two decades, 1999-2009 and 2010-2020.

This trend is strongly influenced by major fires in 2017, 2018 and 2020, including destructive fires in Paradise and Santa Rosa, California, and in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. In fact, in nearly every Western state, more homes and buildings were destroyed by wildfire over the past decade than the decade before, revealing increasing vulnerability to wildfire disasters.

What explains the increasing home and structure loss?

Surprisingly, it’s not just the trend of burning more area, or simply more homes being built where fires historically burned. While those trends play a role, increasing home and structure loss is outpacing both.

Streets with burned cars and nothing left of homes but ash.
Entire neighborhoods were reduced to ash when a wildfire spread into Santa Rosa, California, in 2017. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As fire scientists, we have spent decades studying the causes and impacts of wildfires, in both the recent and more distant past. It’s clear that the current wildfire crisis in the Western U.S. has human fingerprints all over it. In our view, now more than ever, humanity needs to understand its role.

Wildfires are becoming more destructive

From 1999 to 2009, an average of 1.3 structures were destroyed for every 4 square miles burned (1,000 hectares, or 10 square kilometers). This average more than doubled to 3.4 during the following decade, 2010-2020.

Nearly every Western state lost more structures for every square mile burned, with the exception of New Mexico and Arizona.

Charts showing rising trend of loses from fires.
Adapted from Higuera, et al., PNAS Nexus 2023, CC BY

Humans increasingly cause destructive wildfires

Given the damage from the wildfires you hear about on the news, you may be surprised to learn that 88% of wildfires in the West over the past two decades destroyed zero structures. This is, in part, because the majority of area burned (65%) is still due to lightning-ignited wildfires, often in remote areas.

But among wildfires that do burn homes or other structures, humans play a disproportionate role – 76% over the past two decades were started by unplanned human-related ignitions, including backyard burning, downed power lines and campfires. The area burned from human-related ignitions rose 51% between 1999-2009 and 2010-2020.

This is important because wildfires started by human activities or infrastructure have vastly different impacts and characteristics that can make them more destructive.

Unplanned human ignitions typically occur near buildings and tend to burn in grasses that dry out easily and burn quickly. And people have built more homes and buildings in areas surrounded by flammable vegetation, with the number of structures up by 40% over the past two decades across the West, with every state contributing to the trend.

Human-caused wildfires also expand the fire season beyond the summer months when lightning is most common, and they are particularly destructive during late summer and fall when they overlap with periods of high winds.

As a result, of all the wildfires that destroy structures in the West, human-caused events typically destroy over 10 times more structures for every square mile burned, compared to lighting-caused events.

Map showing where fires burned in 1999-2009 and 2010-2020, comparing lightning-sparked to human-ignition and the amount of structures burned from each. More structures were burned in human-started fires.
Adapted from Higuera, et al., PNAS Nexus 2023, CC BY

The December 2021 Marshall Fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes and buildings in the suburbs near Boulder, Colorado, fit this pattern to a T. Powerful winds sent the fire racing through neighborhoods and vegetation that was unusually dry for late December.

As human-caused climate change leaves vegetation more flammable later into each year, the consequences of accidental ignitions are magnified.

Putting out all fires isn’t the answer

This might make it easy to think that if we just put out all fires, we would be safer. Yet a focus on stopping wildfires at all costs is, in part, what got the West into its current predicament. Fire risks just accumulate for the future.

The amount of flammable vegetation has increased in many regions because of an absence of burning due to emphasizing fire suppression, preventing Indigenous fire stewardship and a fear of fire in any context, well exemplified by Smokey Bear. Putting out every fire quickly removes the positive, beneficial effects of fires in Western ecosystems, including clearing away hazardous fuels so future fires burn less intensely.

How to reduce risk of destructive wildfires

The good news is that people have the ability to affect change, now. Preventing wildfire disasters necessarily means minimizing unplanned human-related ignitions. And it requires more than Smokey Bear’s message that “only you can prevent forest fires.” Infrastructure, like downed power lines, has caused some of the deadliest wildfires in recent years.

Reducing wildfire risks across communities, states and regions requires transformative changes beyond individual actions. We need innovative approaches and perspectives for how we build, provide power and manage lands, as well as mechanisms that ensure changes work across socioeconomic levels.

Dot chart showing how each state's area and buildings burned changed. Calfiornia, Oregon and the West overall had above average loss and above average burning. Colorado had above average loss and below average burning.
Adapted from Higuera, et al., PNAS Nexus 2023, CC BY

Actions to reduce risk will vary, since how people live and how wildfires burn vary widely across the West.

States with large tracts of land with little development, like Idaho and Nevada, can accommodate widespread burning, largely from lighting ignition, with little structure loss.

California and Colorado, for example, require different approaches and priorities. Growing communities can carefully plan if and how they build in flammable landscapes, support wildfire management for risks and benefits, and improve firefighting efforts when wildfires do threaten communities.

Climate change remains the elephant in the room. Left unaddressed, warmer, drier conditions will exacerbate challenges of living with wildfires. And yet we can’t wait. Addressing climate change can be paired with reducing risks immediately to live more safely in an increasingly flammable West.

Philip Higuera, Professor of Fire Ecology, University of Montana; Jennifer Balch, Associate Professor of Geography and Director, Earth Lab, University of Colorado Boulder; Maxwell Cook, Ph.D. Student, Dept. of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder, and Natasha Stavros, Director of the Earth Lab Analytics Hub, University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What’s driving re-burns across California and the West?

Read the full story from DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Seasonal temperature, moisture loss from plants and wind speed are what primarily drive fires that sweep across the same landscape multiple times, a new study reveals. These findings and others could help land managers plan more effective treatments in areas susceptible to fire, particularly in the fire-ravaged wildland-urban interfaces of California.

What if Indigenous women ran controlled burns?

Read the full story at High Country News.

The Karuk Tribe’s first-of-its-kind training seeks to extinguish hypermasculinity in firefighting culture.