[Cdt-l] Cost-wary Forest Service now tries to tamp out every flame

Brett blisterfree at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 19 23:57:22 CDT 2012

>>Isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place?  Letting a 100 yr
old accumulation of tinder and kindling build up just in time for the
next lightning strike or stray cigarette butt???<<

I agree. And yet I'm actually with the FS on this one. In an extremely dry year, the risks of lightning-caused fires growing beyond the point of serving the best interest of the resource (and all its many uses, including recreation) are arguably too great to just sit on the sidelines and watch them burn. That's what they did with the Whitewater and Baldy fires initially. In fact, when the fires were first detected, the talk on InciWeb was that the Baldy Fire, in particular, was to be allowed to burn unhindered, reducing ground fuels and "cleaning up" the forest. But this was in mid-May of an extreme drought year, with plenty of time for a big wind event and with monsoon rains still two months away. Arguably it was suicide to take the approach they took, rather than putting it out early on. And sure enough, all hell broke loose, to the tune of 300,000 acres burned, millions of dollars spent in containment and, now, in flood prevention and so forth. 

In a time when drought has become the norm, I think land managers are better off using controlled burns when conditions are favorable, than in letting nature take its course when conditions are ripe for a major conflagration, especially when the "course of nature" seems to be increasingly one that man has made for her, by way of global warming. I think officials are getting this now, driven by a need to save money, and the realization that they will ultimately have to intervene at some point if a wildfire goes out of control in an area of important recreational value, or in defense of life and property, as we've seen in the Gila.

- Brett

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