Ag Today August 8, 2018

Battling wildfires year-round is now the norm. How did we get here?

It’s fire season in the West, and that means an overflowing inbox for Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director at Cal Fire.

The emails arrive frequently, always with the best of intentions. A common recommendation from Californians: Why not just set up a sophisticated sprinkler system throughout the state’s 101 million acres?

A resident recently suggested turning blimps into giant water balloons as a way to control blazes. Fill them up, drop them on wooded areas and soak the land. Easy, right?

They all mean well, Berlant said, and he’s happy residents are engaged. But those ideas aren’t realistic.

What is realistic: The blazes currently ripping up and down the western part of the United States are here to stay. Large chunks of the West are under siege from wildfires right now, in what many experts have deemed “the new normal.”

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