Scientists expect the risk of large wildfires to increase sixfold during the next 20 years.
When areas have record-breaking dry spells combined with record-breaking heat, wildfires become more and more of a risk. Newer housing tracts built adjacent to dry grasslands become increasingly vulnerable. Without much green vegetation, all the dried grass and bushes act like kindling that easily catches fire as conditions become increasingly dry.
- According to Drought.gov, as of 2-1-22, 46.33% of the U.S. is in drought, 197 million acres of crops are experiencing drought conditions, and 96.2 million people are affected.
- Per UN estimates, in the last two decades drought has affected 1.5 billion people and led to economic losses of at least $124 billion.
SolutionsThe more all of us can do to keep plants green instead of brown, the more we can prevent fires.
Mitigating this problem requires serious effort from all sectors: government, non-profits, businesses, and individuals. Preventative measures include large scale government programs, fireproofing homes, and firescaping. Firescaping also sometimes involves irrigation - where we can help.
Even if an individual's efforts are only a small drop when we need a lake-full, thousands of drops help us get there. Some of the best firescaping designs include different strategies for different distances from homes, and growing different kinds of plants in different places.
More information on Preventative Methods
One of the most simple, inexpensive, and effective wildfire protection measures includes various ways of creating swales perpendicular to slopes. By making earthen berms, trenches, or just laying fallen trees across the contours, more water stays longer under dry trees and brush. This can also create a firebreak and slow or prevent erosion and flooding. It keeps the fallen logs more moist and resistant to burning. Even more effective in preventing grass fires, the more water is saved and slowly released, the larger the benefit. Our simple and effective BluSoak systems increase these benefits. These just work with the water naturally in the swale but can also be connected to a manual or automatically-controlled water supply line to increase these benefits further.
This enables more firescaping methods while cultivating hard-to-burn plants. It's much easier for tall, dry grass to catch fire than grass that’s green and growing. Growing mushrooms in these swales can also be a good source of extra income. Avoid conifers and broadleaf shrubs and evergreens like eucalyptus, pines, junipers, cedars, manzanita, and the many native fire-prone species and instead plant green leaved trees and shrubs, fruit and nut trees, chestnut, poplar and oak. These slow down and can even stop approaching wildfires while providing food and other resources. Most deciduous trees don't have the same amount or kind of flammable oils and have higher moisture content in their leaves. Ground covers like Agapanthus are famous for stopping grass fires dead in their tracks.