One Utah legislator is finally trying to bring a state land-management policy in line with science and the pressing concerns of the 21st century.
Utah has for years seen an increase in the number, size and severity of wildfires. As climate change brings hotter summers and sustained drought to the West, wildfire management soon will reach a crisis stage, if it hasn't already.
Scientists who have warned about the looming consequences of burning ever more fossil fuels now say climate change is not a problem of the future but is already bringing an increase in extreme weather-related events, including the record-setting 2012 fire season. Higher spring and summer temperatures and earlier spring snowmelt will continue to dry out the soil, vegetation and trees. That creates an environment that fuels more and bigger wildfires.