A 2020 Bear Fire survivor and California cattle producer told a U.S. House subcommittee on public lands, national parks and forests, land management is a necessity.
Dr. Dave Daley, whose family has been running cattle on the land for five generations, addressed the combination of wildfires and climate change. He also shared ways to make western forests, grasslands and rangelands more resilient. Daley serves as chair of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands Committee and chair of the Public Lands Council Ecosystem and Environment Committee.
Daley spoke on controlling the risk of wildfire through active land management practices like reseeding and prescribed burns.
“As a rancher, and an expert in animal science, I can tell you that the nimblest tool to address dense grasses in the most protective way is to graze these landscapes,” Daley says.
In the Bear Fire last year, Daley lost approximately 80 percent of his cattle herd. Most animals were killed in the fire, others had to be euthanized due to their injuries, and tens of thousands of acres of rich, healthy soil and plant life was incinerated.
“Forests, rangelands, and grasslands that are at high risk of catastrophic wildfire are not resilient.The cycle of fuel loading, catastrophic wildfire, and loss of biodiversity decreases carbon storage potential in the soil and plant community. In addition to the loss of storage potential, fires release immense volumes of carbon. The California Air Resources Board estimated that the state’s fire in 2020 emitted approximately 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to more than 24 million cars,” says Daley.
He also warned about the dangers of a one-size-fits-all regulatory approach at the state or federal level and stressed the importance of empowering local ranchers, loggers, and land management experts on the ground who understand each unique ecosystem
“The world is changing. The climate is changing,” added Daley. “We live in a time where communities are expanding further into forested areas, while the residents themselves are further removed than ever before from the direct knowledge of the farm or the wilderness. The hearing came as severe drought conditions across much of the West threaten to make the 2021 wildfire season one of the most destructive in recent memory.
“Dave Daley’s heartbreaking testimony of all that was taken from him by the Bear Fire reveals the dangerous risk that wildfires can post to entire ways of life in the West,” says Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1).I am glad to be able to introduce Dave to the subcommittee, and I hope that his personal story will underscore to lawmakers from across the country the importance of coming together to take bipartisan action to better manage our Western forestlands.”
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