December 16, 2006

'Let it burn' 'Not here!'

Back in my reporter days, I covered my first Forest Service public meeting on fire suppression and prescribed burns back in 1987. The following year brought the big Yellowstone fire complex, and "let it burn" suddenly became very out of fashion.

A couple of weeks ago, the local FS staffers held yet another public meeting about fire suppression in the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Mike Smith, the long-time number-two on the San Carlos Ranger District, delivered the party line: a century of fire suppression is making forest fires worse.

He was followed by one of the local fire chiefs, who worried about fires jumping from the national forest onto private property (which could have happened to us in 2005 had the wind not changed).

I think that more and more of the local people support (cautiously) a sort of "let it burn" policy. And I suppose that taking twenty years to change a paradigm is about average.

No comments: