Tucson Opinion: Smart Environmental Leadership from Governor Ducey | Local editorials and opinions

The following is the writer’s opinion and analysis:

You could see the scars as you drove into town. Huge swaths of Mount Lemmon were covered in a thick red smear created by millions of gallons of fire retardant. At night the fires continued unabated, and bright orange lines snaked up and down the mountain.

That was the bighorn fire. Days later the Magnum and Bush fires broke out, burning for 53 days in total, devastating nearly 390,000 acres.

In 2020 alone, 2,520 forest fires burned nearly all counties in Arizona, destroying nearly a million acres of tribal, private, state and federal lands, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. Mammoth fires in the districts of Mohave, Pima, Coconino and Maricopa darkened the sky and made breathing difficult.

In the 2020 fire season, 10.27 million acres were destroyed nationwide, dozens of deaths and apocalyptic images from California. While we may never know the real economic impact, it is likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars.

These fires were caused by a variety of factors, including human activity, climate change, and poor forest management. After the fires, Governor Ducey should be welcomed for his focus on combating overgrowth and poor forest management. Through its proposed Healthy Forest Initiative, Arizona can fight these wild and runaway fires.


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