Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Cost of Wilfires vs. Management

The year 2012 was a bad year for our forests and lands in America. Whether it be tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or forest and range fires, we are under the wrath of Mother Nature.
Forest fires are nothing new in America. They've been occurring for thousands of years. However, the forest and range fires that we see in recent times are more catastrophic than probably any time in history! WHY?
One of the major reasons is our lack of understanding and commitment to land mangement. Take our forests as the big example. Is our choice to just put  the fires put out when they occur, rather than allow our forests to be managed on time and by plan? Take the U.S. Forest Service for example. Almost anywhere in this country, we have lawsuits against the Forest Service to prohibit "managing" the forests. There are many reasons for these "protests against management". Unfortunately, the forestry business has been the biggest reason for the "distrust" of management. Clearcuts of the past, too many roads, erosion that chokes out salmon runs, "ugly" scenes from the roads, heavy equipment tearing up the soil, old growth trees nearly gone from the lanscape, and you can add your own reasons for the attitude problem toward management. Even though this sentiment may exist, when there is good reason to "cut" trees and carryout MANAGEMENT PLANS that have gone through intense public scrutiny, we balk at the "cut".
Instead what we have scene brewing since settlement times in America, is a thickening of our vegetation until it chokes out the health of the stands. These dense forests become predisposed to insect and disease. which of course leads to many catastrophic fires. As we have built our homes into the landscape, we now have in many instances, eliminated the choice of natural burns to occur. It is just too dangerous in most cases to let these fires burn. The natural fire regime has been altered.
Fire suppression is extremely costly in so many arenas beyond budgets.
Should we not "budget" our resouces to manage vs. non-management?

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