The Bootleg fire began on July 6th when lightning struck. Since then, it has become this year’s biggest forest fire in the US. It is still growing in size and has recently exceeded 400,000 acres.
The fire has now begun spreading into land that was reserved for carbon offsetting. In particular, 90,000 acres of carbon offset land is owned and operated by the Green Diamond Resource Company.
That’s roughly one-fifth of the entire offsetting site.
What Is An Offsetting Site?
A lot of companies throw around the term carbon offsetting, but not many people know what these sites are really like.
In reality, almost all of them, especially within the US, are just maintained forests. There are actually three different types that include Afforestation/Reforestation, Avoided Conversion, and Improved Forest Management.
To summarize these types of forests are either regrown, protected from being destroyed, or maintained to absorb more carbon. And as you might expect, a forest fire could disrupt the entire process.
In fact, the burning of these trees actually releases carbon, which raises the question, what happens to the customers?
Carbon offsetting is actually a business and quite a lucrative one at that. Obviously, if a business cannot deliver on a promise there is an issue. But in these cases, each of the trees is actually insured.
To what extent, I’m not sure, but every customer will receive the credits they paid for.
How Bad Is the Fire?
To put it bluntly, the Bootleg fire is pretty bad. Many have taken to social media to show how it has affected the surrounding cities with exceptionally poor air quality.
The latest information from Thursday, July 22nd indicates that the fire has grown by about 4,000 acres. And it is currently only 38% contained, which means it will continue to grow for a few more days.
While the fire was caused naturally by lightning, the conditions of the forest made it horrific.
The western US is currently experiencing a drought with no end in sight. And the recent heatwave that has affected the country, including Canada, has only made the forests drier. Therefore, the moment a spark occurred, the forest was ablaze.
The smoke from this fire has even been affecting people on the other coast. That’s right, the smoke was able to make its way from Oregon all the way to New York. This resulted in New York City having the worst air quality in over a decade.
As of July 15th, over 2.5 million acres of forest have been lost to wildfires this year.
Fire Season Isn’t Over
While we might be in peak fire season right now, the season still has many months ahead.
Unlike hurricane seasons, there’s no official start and end date. Instead, it’s usually an estimate that begins in May and ends in November. And with a highly destructive first half under its belt, 2021 may be on track for a record-setting year.
And this comes right after 2020, which was the second-worst year in history in terms of total acres burned. Ultimately, as climate change ramps up, the world will get warmer, which will only make forest fires more common.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.