7 Oct 2008, 9:58am
Saving Forests The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

The Correct Way to Return Fire to the Land

The Elko Daily Free Press has published a two part series (by Sam Brown) on the East Slide Rock Ridge Fire:

The East Slide Rock Ridge fire: A burning passion for the land

By SAM BROWN, Elko Daily Free Press, October 4 and 6, 2008 [here and here]

The difference between good and bad is many times a matter of perspective, particularly when it comes to public lands management. What ranchers call good, environmental interests typically call bad, and what is good according to environmentalists is frequently at odds with the ideas espoused by those who make a living off the land.

That said, few would say the East Slide Rock Ridge fire that encompassed some 54,000 acres near Jarbidge in August was entirely a good thing - after all, fighting the blaze put 700 firefighters on the lines, cost taxpayers nearly $9 million and drew critical attention from as far away as Carson City.

The East Slide Rock Ridge fire burned fewer acres in comparison to the Murphy Complex fire (which burned more than 650,000 acres in northeastern Nevada and southern Idaho in 2007) and Jarbidge Clover fire (nearly 200,000 acres in 2005), but the fact the area was swept by three large conflagrations in four years has raised questions about the long-term effectiveness of fire prevention and management techniques currently in practice.

From the still-smoldering ashes of the fire, a clearer picture can be seen of why the East Slide Rock Ridge blaze went from good to bad and, more importantly, what can be done to prevent such fires in the future. …

Dr. Bob Zybach, Ph.D. of the Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project offers this cogent comment:

The USFS and the American taxpayer need to pay much closer attention to experienced resource managers, such as Chet Brackets and Mike Guerry. They know what they are talking about.

But we get people like Dave Ashby, instead:

“Two hundred years ago, who was putting out these lightning strike fires? Ashby asked. No one. The Indians were starting them.

It’s pretty obvious that the fires are larger and are burning more fervently, he continued. Everyone agrees that at least part of the reason is that now we are putting out every fire when it starts.”

1) The Indians weren’t “starting” lightning fires; they were burning mosaics, much as described by Brackets and Guerry. That’s why these catastrophic wildfires are taking place NOW — passive management just doesn’t work. We need ranchers and loggers or Indians to show us how to manage resources; and that requires active management and experienced actions.

2) We are obviously NOT “putting out every fire when it starts.” What is THAT about? The problem is NOT “fire suppression,” it is “fire management.” If we listen to knowledgeable experts such as Brackets and Guerry, we will eliminate most catastrophic-scale wildfires, reduce wildfire management costs, produce safer, more beautiful environments, and increase the productive capacity of our common lands. Again.

It’s time to take a big step forward by taking a reasoned step back.

For more about the East Slide Rock Ridge WFU Fire see [here]

For an excellent history of the Jarbidge Area by Bob St. Louis just posted by W.I.S.E. in our History of Western Landscapes Colloquium, see [here]



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta