This book follows in the tradition of Charles “Chuck” Davis’ Western Public Lands and Environmental Politics (Westview Press), which many teachers and professors have used over the years in their environmental politics and policy courses. The second edition of Chuck’s book was published in 2001, and we were unsuccessful in trying to persuade him for a new edition. However, we were able to have him contribute to this volume and are very appreciative. Chuck has been a wonderful mentor, friend and colleague to both of us and we hope this book meets his approval. Chuck’s opening statement in the preface of the second edition is still relevant as we look back to the summer of 2018 and the forthcoming summer of 2019: “We are in the latter part of an unusually hot and dry summer the year 2000, and wildfires are burning out of control on large tracks of western lands” (2001: xi). Unfortunately, the increasing impacts of climate change on western public lands and the west as a whole has led to unprecedented catastrophic wildfires and loss of life, disappearing glaciers in western mountains, drought, and many western ecosystems teetering on the edge. In addition, a recent U.S. Geological Survey study estimates that approximately one-fourth of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are from fossil fuel extraction and combustion from public lands (Merrill et al., 2018). We anticipate that climate change effects will exacerbate conflict over western public lands management and have therefore asked each chapter author to include a discussion of climate change where appropriate.
Wildfires are occurring at an increasing rate in Washington state. Students often have questions regarding forest habitats, safety and the prevention of wildfires. In this storyline students will learn about native ways of knowing through oral storytelling, trees as part of habitats local to them, and wildfire prevention. Students will participate in integrated science and literacy lessons to build their understanding of how wildfires are connected to weather and to communicate solutions to prevent human initiated wildfires.
Wildfires are a contributing factor to greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists estimate that wildfires emitted 8 billion tons of CO2 per year for the past 20 years. Wildfires have risks and benefits that humans are impacted by. In this storyline, students will learn about the risks and benefits of wildfires, the science behind how fire occurs and the conditions that make a fire catastrophic. Students will evaluate local/regional fires to determine how human activities contribute to wildfires. Students will research how forest management decisions are made to decrease the negative impacts of wildfires and to decrease the amount of CO2 that is emitted from those fires.