2020 California fire season: A year like no other, a return to the past, or harbinger of the future?

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The 2020 fires were part of an accelerating decades-long trend of increasing burned area, fire size, fire severity and socio-ecological costs in California. In fire-prone forests, the management emphasis on reducing burned area should be replaced by a focus on reducing the severity of burning and restoring key ecosystem functions after fire. There have been positive developments in California vis-à-vis collaborative action and increased pace and scale of fuel management and pre- and postfire restoration, but the warming climate and other factors are rapidly constraining our options.

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