Fire managers across the United States are grappling with more frequent, extreme wildfires caused in part by a changing climate and nearly a century of ardent fire suppression. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, increasing temperatures along with the knee-jerk tendency to extinguish fire has created an environment ripe for higher-intensity, larger flames, according to a study published last month in Ecosphere.
But the Southeast takes a different approach to fire.
In 2018, Georgia, Florida and Alabama prescribed burns to more than 4 million acres of land, while the remaining 47 states and territories burned about 2 million acres combined, according to data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center and analyzed by Climate Central. Experts warn this data may undercount prescribed burning, but a country-wide survey by the National Association of State Foresters and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils similarly found that, in 2017, the Southeast was responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s prescribed burns.
Although each state requires a different amount of prescribed burning to sustain a healthy ecosystem, many states with sizable amounts of federal and state lands aren’t meeting their goals. Staff at the U.S. Forest Service, which treated only about 1% of the nearly 200 million acres of land it manages with prescribed burns in 2018, are alarmed by their own agency’s lack of burning. For the first time in history, they’re considering restructuring the agency to facilitate more prescribed fires.
Real estate mogul Franklin Haney contributed $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and all he’s got to show for the money is the glare of a federal investigation.
The contribution from Haney, a prolific political donor, came as he was seeking regulatory approval and financial support from the government for his long-shot bid to acquire the mothballed Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in northeastern Alabama. More than two years later, he still hasn’t closed the deal.
Too much pine and not enough saw mills spell years of depressed prices for plantations.
The racial element of America’s poverty crisis is seen nowhere more clearly than in the Deep South, where the open wounds of slavery continue to bleed. The UN special rapporteur chose as his next stop the “Black Belt,” the term that originally referred to the rich dark soil that exists in a band across Alabama but over time came to describe its majority African American population.
The link between soil type and demographics was not coincidental. Cotton was found to thrive in this fertile land, and that in turn spawned a trade in slaves to pick the crop. Their descendants still live in the Black Belt, still mired in poverty among the worst in the union.
Leaning forward on a plush chair with his hands clasped so tightly his knuckles were white, Mitch Reid wondered aloud what Theodore Roosevelt might think of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which calls for a 31-percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.
If passed in its current form, Reid said, the budget will be severely detrimental to the preservation of the Alabama’s natural resources — and he is angry about it.