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Wyoming Forestry Division State Forester speaks about wildfires in Wyoming

The Mullen Fire continues to grow in Wyoming. As of Monday, September 28, 2020, the fire was approaching 80,000 acres.
The Mullen Fire continues to grow in Wyoming. As of Monday, September 28, 2020, the fire was approaching 80,000 acres.(NIFC)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:45 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Mullen Fire is another fire to add to the list of those burning across the western United States. “We’ve had really dry conditions, hot conditions, mountain pine beetle, bug kill in the area. A lot of downfall. It makes it so it’s a type of fire where it’s really hard to do any sort of direct attack," said State Forester Bill Crapser, with the State Forestry Division.

“A lot of our fires in Wyoming, we talk a lot about forest management, and I run the forestry division, forestry is our thing," said Crapser, "But a lot of our fires in Wyoming are what I would call mixed fires. They’re a combination of range fire, forest fire, so it’s in a lot of that transition zone.”

According to Crapser, there have been policy changes over the years that do affect forest management efforts. However, he doesn’t think the answer to what’s causing so many intense fires is an easy one. “We love to say it’s 100 years of fire suppression fault, or it’s climate change or it’s people moving out to the [rural areas],” but Crapser says it’s really all three of those things affecting the wildfire season.

“We’re seeing vast changes in demographics where people live, climate change is definitely a factor, lack of management over the years, or too much management. It’s complex.”

When it comes to the issue of climate change, Crapser said, people may want to argue whether humans have been causing the changes in the climate, but he doesn’t think they can argue that climate change is happening. “We’ve seen hotter, dryer, longer fire seasons," said Crapser. "I mean it’s almost the first of October and we have a large fire burning in Wyoming. That didn’t use to happen.”

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