I was presented some thoughts on mis-management being a part of the fire problem we now face. I agree that decades of fire-suppression creates a back-log of fuel to burn these outrageously hot and out-of-control fires that seem to get worse every year. What those opinions don’t give us is a method to prescribe burn that is acceptable to the millions of people affected when a forest burns. They also don’t give us any money to pay for the kind of management they are talking about. The source cited was an article written by Michael Shellenberger, an author whose Master’s degree was in Cultural Anthropology. He is controversial to say the least, and not trained in the sciences of which he speaks. Don’t get me wrong – neither am I.
So here are my questions. How do you prescribe burn in and around thousands of homes in the middle of or next to a forest (by the way it’s not always forest where a fire starts)? Those pesky winds sometimes move the fires in the wrong direction – toward homes. That will upset the insurance companies that insure all those homes. We all know they have a big lobby in DC.
How do you tell the millions of people that camp in our forests that they can’t do that this year, we’re going to burn it and then have to rebuild all the camping sites? Where is the money in the budget for rebuilding all those sites? or accidental homes burning down?
In the 1600s, when Europeans came to North America in numbers enough to count, there were an estimated 7 to 10 millions native Americans and approximately 30,000 Europeans north of the Rio Grande. Today, we have over 369 million. A fire today carries far more impact than it used to.
I think our forest rangers and fire fighters have been doing the best they can with an ever growing problem that encompasses all of the elements mentioned: too much fuel from lack of prescribed burning, too many values (homes, camping sites, businesses) in the forests that make prescribed burning nearly impossible and highly impractical, not enough money in the budget, drought (whether you call it climate change or not), each contributes to an ever growing problem. Like life, this is not a one-answer fits all problem. But our planet does deserve our best shot at solving this dilemma from every angle we can think of.
Source: Barbara Tyner WordPress Blog