Friday July 1, 2016
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Did you read the article about returning to more open grazing in the forest lands at the same time we restart the timber industry by at last beginning to thin the forest?
It would be a return to yesteryear.
Was yesteryear better?
I have an opinion, but I'd much rather hear yours.
You know my background. I fought many a wildfire in my career and in my opinion the whole approach to Forest management needs to be re-examined. I think others in positions of power are also beginning to agree. Over 60 years ago, thanks in large part to the Smokey the Bear campaign, the Forest service and others charged with protecting property from fires, began a strategy that unfortunately has brought us to this hazardous potential today. We literally dropped folks from aircraft to put out fires no matter their remoteness.. We put our attention on promptly extinguishing every fire that came to notice. That effort, and of course many other extenuating circumstances, has brought us to this current situation. Fire is a natural part of the ecology. Some trees will not even germinate without the presence of fire.
More directly to your question, I believe proper and well supervised timbering can go a long way to helping reduce some of the risks. As to cattle grazing, well, my views are somewhat controversial on that as the grazing aspect is purported to help reduce the "flashy fuels" from which most large fires originate. But I am also aware there are other issues that come with grazing and since I have never been a rancher, I simply have no right to make a judgment call on those issues.
Now, many folks such as ourselves have chosen to make our homes in this wildland/forest interface. And the West is replete with small enclaves of folks who live in similar environments. I've always told folks that there are certain risks that come with the decision to live in such an environment. In all honesty, after all I personally experienced and was witness to, I made the decision to live where I do but I do not have any expectation that any agency, Pine/Strawberry Fire Department, US Forest Service, or any other agency can or should be expected to save my home in the event of a major fire in our immediate area. Of course there are steps people can take to help moderate their risk to some degree, but a fire of major magnitude with a wind driving it will pretty much do what it is going to do regardless of those steps. I've seen homes with stucco exteriors and tile roofs burned to the ground while a home with wood siding and wood shingle roof was still standing adjacent to it. I cannot explain it but I have witnessed it. Large fires have some of the characteristics of tornados in the sense that they follow an erratic path taking some and sparing others.
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