October 22, 2021

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire inches towards prized California forest

2 min read

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, now the largest fire in the nation, is inching closer to a Californian forest critical to its climate-centric cap and trade program.

The 212,000-acre fire is burning in Fremont-Winema National Forest, placing 100 homes in Klamath County under evacuation orders since it was first reported on July 6. Since then, the Bootleg Fire has doubled in size every 48 hours. From July 9 to July 14, the fire has doubled in size almost daily.

Around 1,189 firefighters from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties have been working to contain it since Tuesday, the State Fire Marshal’s office reports. Containment is now 5%.

The Klamath Falls area is now home to a Red Cross Shelter where Level 1, 2 and 3 evacuation notices—”Be Ready,” “Be Set” and “Go Now”—are being issued. Local authorities have reported no injuries or deaths.

Flames from the Bootleg Fire are now 40 miles or about a 45-minute drive away from a 450,000-acre Californian forest and a significant source of California’s carbon offset credits. The credits are part of California’s cap and trade program in which the state sells IOUs to polluters to pay for clean energy projects. Those projects include dozens of forest management projects around California in which private contractors are paid to maintain trees intended to store carbon in the air.

Since 2015, Northern California’s CAFR5233 forest in the vicinity of Klamath Falls has accrued 954,179 offset credits to date. At $18.80 per offset credit based on May prices, the forest has paid about $17.9 million into California’s cap and trade program.

California is home to some 33 million acres of forestland, making up a third of its total land mass. Around 19.8 million of that is public land that the state is betting on to help it reach its goal of reducing its carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Since 2019, California has issued more than 23 million offset credits for forest projects valued at $432.4 million. That number is the fourth highest in the U.S., behind Alaska, Arkansas and Arizona. 

Wildfires are expected to grow in size and number this summer which broke some 1,400 heat records nationwide, particularly in the Western U.S., which has lost 2.2 million acres to wildfires so far.

Late Tuesday, three other major fires across Oregon—The Jack Fire in Douglas County, the Grandview Fire near Oregon’s Crooked River National Grassland and the Bruler Fire near Detroit, continue to spread.

The Jack Fire has burned more than 12,500 acres and is 15% contained, while the Grandview Fire has grown to 5,700 acres and is 5% contained. The Bruler Fire is at 60 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service on Monday. The agency reports the Bruler Fire is 0% continued and not threatening communities at this time.

This article was originally posted on Oregon’s Bootleg Fire inches towards prized California forest

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