Wildfires have become larger and more frequent in the western U.S. since 1984, according to a new study published by the American Geophysical Union.
The increased fire activity coincides with worsening droughts over the same period. The study also notes that past fire-management practices are likely a factor, especially fire suppression in forests.
An ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey said past fire-suppression practices might have caught up with us, providing more continuous fuel sources.
"It could also be a response to changes in climate, or both," he said.
Researchers say this is the first study that uses high-resolution satellite data to examine broad tracts of land. The strongest wildfire activity over the past 30 years has been in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, not here in the Pacific Northwest.
Locally, the risk of wildfire remains a concern, especially in regions near the east slope of the Cascades and in dense westside forests during droughts. Check out our new web pages devoted to wildfire awareness and prevention, 'Don't Get Burned!'