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Abundant snowfall could delay risk for wildfires near BWCA and North Shore in 2022

Snow has been a word WTIP references often while sharing forecasts and weather updates during the winter of 2021-22.

Indeed, multiple feet of snow now rest in the woods of Superior National Forest and the majority of the WTIP listening area.

During a recent visit to the site of the Greenwood Fire near Isabella, WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs asked Lane Johnson, a research forester with the University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center, what the snowpack this winter could mean when it comes to a fire season this spring, summer and fall.

In short: It’s good news. More snowpack essentially means more runoff and water on the ground and various watersheds in the spring. This in contrast to the mild winter of 2020-21 and the drought conditions across northeastern Minnesota last summer.

And while snow this winter helps, there is still significant drought in northeastern Minnesota and across much of the state, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

And there’s more good news that has nothing to do with the weather or precipitation. The Biden administration said last week it will significantly expand efforts to stave off catastrophic wildfires that have torched areas of the country by more aggressively thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighborhoods collide.

As climate change heats up and dries out areas of the country, administration officials said they have crafted a $50 billion plan to more than double the use of controlled fires and logging to reduce trees and other vegetation that serves as tinder in the most at-risk areas, the Associated Press reports.

Listen to the audio below to hear a conversation recorded in late January between Johnson and Friedrichs from the site of the Greenwood Fire.