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Reporting and commentary from OnEarth editors and correspondents
The health of our forest ecosystem will improve with the intelligent application of fire as a management tool, but it this is not to say that every fire not considered a threat to structures or human life should be left to burn until Fall. Timber production should remain a co-priority on public lands, along with wildlife and watershed management, etc. As the system operates today, forest managers and consumers feel compelled to prevent fires because of the difficulty faced in harvesting burned timber before it becomes completely worthless. Red tape and the misguided effort to prevent the harvest of burned timber results in waste as valuable timber becomes worthless insect fodder, and with the unfortunate consequence that consumers must then turn to green forests to obtain the timber resources they require. Damaging healthy ecosystems in order to avoid disturbing an already broken system hardly makes a lot of sense.
I agree with the "let it burn principal" yet many of the Forest Service land boarders urban areas; whether a large or small community, someones home, business, or other establishment. There are many historical landmarks that the public has pushed to preserve and protect. Managing wildland fire is tricky, and in the for-front should consider public safety; even if its an estimate during initial attack. All it takes in one dead hiker or someones home destroyed, then the public has another ill-opinion about the Forest Service. If you want to allow the natural process, then let it proceed without restrictions. That means let it burn even if it does progress to urban areas. Lets face it, though lightnings do cause fires, the majority of the severe fires are caused by humans. Lets allow nature to clear out and progress without any intervention. If we do attempt to stop the fire from evading an urban area, then we are right back with interfering with the natural process. The population is growing, more people are extending out and putting undue pressures on the natural environment. I avoid using the term ecosystem, because the human race is part of the ecosystem, not a separate from it. ForestWalker