(Image Source: US Forest Service)

 

BY TRAVIS ZIMPFER

ANCHOR NEVILLE MILLER

The largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history continues to burn due to low humidity, high winds and dry wood. NBC Nightly News illustrates the size of the inferno burning in Gila National Forest.

“The Whitewater Baldy fire has consumed more than 200,000 acres. The burn zone is roughly 340 square miles, the size of New York City.”

But a human element may keep the blaze burning for weeks. The Guardian reports more than half a billion dollars in congressional budget cuts could hamper firefighters’ ability to stop these wildfires.

“Experts fear the shortfall will leave fire crews scrambling for resources and force government agencies to dip into other non-fire budgets to cover the gap.”

The $512 million cut by Congress since 2010 represents nearly 15 percent of funding to prevent and fight wildfires. Science Daily says experts think, thanks to human activities, these “megafires” will be more frequent — and more intense.

“The ancient pattern of generally small, frequent fires changed by the late 1800s... Cattle and sheep... grazed the forest floor, consuming the grasses that fueled small fires but leaving small saplings and brush, which then grew up into dense, mature bushes and trees.”

On the blog Wildfire Today, an expert mused on a growing rash of record breaking fires across the southwest. The Whitewater-Baldy fire this year in New Mexico and the Wallow fire last year in Arizona both set records in their states for scorching land.

“A person has to wonder. Is this going to be the new norm — frequent record-setting fires, while the number of federal firefighters and air tankers continue to shrink?”

In New Mexico, the wildfire still rages. Only 10 percent of the inferno has been contained and the budget shortfall could make it a lot harder to fight this force of nature.

Budget Cuts Could Spark Dangerous Fire Season

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Jun 2, 2012

Budget Cuts Could Spark Dangerous Fire Season

(Image Source: US Forest Service)

 

BY TRAVIS ZIMPFER

ANCHOR NEVILLE MILLER

The largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history continues to burn due to low humidity, high winds and dry wood. NBC Nightly News illustrates the size of the inferno burning in Gila National Forest.

“The Whitewater Baldy fire has consumed more than 200,000 acres. The burn zone is roughly 340 square miles, the size of New York City.”

But a human element may keep the blaze burning for weeks. The Guardian reports more than half a billion dollars in congressional budget cuts could hamper firefighters’ ability to stop these wildfires.

“Experts fear the shortfall will leave fire crews scrambling for resources and force government agencies to dip into other non-fire budgets to cover the gap.”

The $512 million cut by Congress since 2010 represents nearly 15 percent of funding to prevent and fight wildfires. Science Daily says experts think, thanks to human activities, these “megafires” will be more frequent — and more intense.

“The ancient pattern of generally small, frequent fires changed by the late 1800s... Cattle and sheep... grazed the forest floor, consuming the grasses that fueled small fires but leaving small saplings and brush, which then grew up into dense, mature bushes and trees.”

On the blog Wildfire Today, an expert mused on a growing rash of record breaking fires across the southwest. The Whitewater-Baldy fire this year in New Mexico and the Wallow fire last year in Arizona both set records in their states for scorching land.

“A person has to wonder. Is this going to be the new norm — frequent record-setting fires, while the number of federal firefighters and air tankers continue to shrink?”

In New Mexico, the wildfire still rages. Only 10 percent of the inferno has been contained and the budget shortfall could make it a lot harder to fight this force of nature.

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