The study by researchers at Stanford and Columbia universities found that low-intensity burning can help reduce the risk of devastating wildfires. This can be achieved through controlled or prescribed fires, managed wildfires, and tribal cultural burning. These methods can dramatically reduce the risk of severe wildfires for years at a time. The study focused on California, where devastating wildfires have been increasingly common due to hotter weather and fire suppression. The researchers found that low-intensity fires initially reduce the risk of catastrophic fires by 60% in mixed conifer forests, and the protective effect lasts at least six years. This data can be used by policymakers to evaluate fuel treatments and wildfire strategies. The U.S. Forest Service and California have proposed increasing the amount of land treated for wildfires, but the study emphasizes that it needs to be an ongoing, periodic maintenance rather than a one-time intervention. The study was funded by Stanford Data Science and the National Institutes of Health.

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