Hawaii Has Spent Decades Priming Itself For More Wildfires…The effects of a changing climate and a struggling agricultural sector have made conditions ripe. Experts have identified solutions but say reducing the risk requires investment.

For years, each new wildfire season in Hawaii has promised to be riskier than usual. This year, wildfire experts and climate forecasters are predicting a particularly dry summer ahead, which could lead to an especially bad wildfire season.

One reason is the decline of sugar and pineapple plantations that’s allowed fire-prone exotic grasses — fountain, guinea and other fast-growing invaders — to flourish on fallow agricultural land during periods of heavy rain, thereby increasing the fire risk in bone-dry conditions.

The loss of productive farmland beginning in the latter part of the 20th century overlaps with the acreage that most often burns during fire season, says state Fire Protection Forester Michael Walker.


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