Forest conservation efforts have resulted in state and federal laws that protect national forests from timber cutting. To keep the forests in their natural pristine state, roads in the forests have been prohibited. Whenever forest fires are started by lightning, they are put out as quickly as possible. All this seems logical. But there is an unintended consequence.
Lightning has been starting forest fires for centuries.
Our national forests are now overgrown with trees and brush. Much of the forest floor is covered in dead brush and timber from insect destruction. In other words, the national forests are loaded with fuel, and fires, once they start, burn excessively and rapidly. A combination of severe drought, high temperatures, and strong winds created explosively combustible conditions that resulted in the massive fires in Colorado and Arizona in the summer of 2002.
control these fires, because they are so big and because there are not
enough roads to get into the forests to build firebreaks. Not only are
the trees destroyed, but the animals and birds that live in the forest
are either killed or driven out of their habitats. The problems are made
even worse because more and more people who love the forests want to build homes
now, shortsighted forest management policies not only create more
devastation of the forest when a fire does start but also increases the
destruction of expensive homes.
National Park's 2.2 million acres had a serious fire in 1988.
The forest managers let the fire burn itself out. The forest was
devastated. But the
forest regenerated itself in a few years. And now it is much more
resistant to uncontrollable fires because there is very little deadwood and brush
we have learned include that it is a good idea to allow limited timber cutting in forests. Likewise, we should allow loggers to build roads in forests, which
have the benefit of providing access to firefighters if and when a forest fire
for more on forest management.