The Rim fire burning near Yosemite National Park already is the state’s sixth largest fire ever recorded and it’s still growing.
Wilderness experts believe the refusal to address climate change is adding fuel to the fire.
Beth Pratt, California director for the National Wildlife Federation, has been watching the fire from her backyard in Midpines on the southwest entrance to Yosemite.
She says the smoke and flames have become an all-too-common sight and that she and her neighbors believe they’re living on the front lines of a new reality partially shaped by climate change.
Pratt says it’s important to remember fire is not inherently bad and serves as a vital part of the forest ecosystem, but she says increasingly intense wildfires permanently change landscapes and give wildlife nothing to come back to.
Pratt says climate change disturbs the equilibrium of the forest. Once the intense fires are out, animals are unable to adjust to the changes in their habitat.
Some of the animals impacted by the Rim fire include the Yosemite Great Gray Owl, the Pacific Fisher and frogs.