A New Symbol For Our Times!
As the summer wildfire season approaches, we need to rethink how we manage forest fires. It is time to say goodbye to Smokey Bear, because suppressing all fires leads eventually to very large, intense, and disastrous fires. Most forests in the United States used to burn relatively frequently before European settlement. These were the result of natural lightning caused wildfires and also Native Americans, who understood the benefits of frequent light fires, also maintained these.
Under natural conditions, frequent light fires remove the excess fuel that has built up in a forest --- dead leaves, twigs, branches, trees. etc. When a light fire occurs under these conditions, it does not destroy the mature, seed-bearing trees and does not damage the forest ecosystem. It is relatively straightforward to control. Prescribed burning, also call controlled burning, can be useful forest management tool, but it must be handled very carefully. See my new op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, written with Certified Forester Bob Williams.