Environment & Science

Lighting fires to help California's environment

File: A firefighter turns his head from the flame of the Butte Fire burning near San Andreas on Sept. 11, 2015.
File: A firefighter turns his head from the flame of the Butte Fire burning near San Andreas on Sept. 11, 2015.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

With a historic drought, tree mortality and devastating wildfires plaguing California in recent years, environmental groups and government agencies have formed a partnership to increase the use of intentional fires to help the plight of the environment.

A Memorandum of Understanding workshop held Tuesday introduced the partnership, explaining how the agencies will bring together resources to better protect California's rural areas, according to a press release.

Recently, California fires in Butte and Valley burned more than 70,000 acres each, destroying hundreds of structures. Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said that recent wildfires have burned with unprecedented intensity.

"This is a direct result, of course, of drought and increased tree mortality across the state, but it's also because we haven't been able to use fire as a tool," Pimlott said during a teleconference about the partnership.

More than nine partners have signed on to the Memorandum of Understanding, including Cal Fire, the National Park Service, the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. 

Pimlott said in a press release that the governor's proclamation of an emergency when it comes to dying trees identifies intentional fire as a beneficial tool for restoring forests — and limiting pollution during wildfires.

Read the entire Memorandum of Understanding here: 

Memorandum of Understanding