Rapid Response: Should the Forest Service change approach to fires?


 
12 August 2017

published by http://www.statesmanjournal.com


USA - The Forest Service is charged with maintaining the "wild character" of congressionally designated areas and believes fires are a natural part of the ecosystem.

Many fire experts believe decades of suppressing forest fires has made them more damaging in the long-term, and hold to the theory that fire shouldn't be seen as something to fight, especially in the wilderness. They compare it to snowfall, rainfall or wind, nature's elements.

With more homes and businesses encroaching on wildlands, do you agree with the forest service?

Here's what you said:

I agree with the Forest Service on this issue. I believe that fires are a natural part of the ecosystem as they do. When people build homes right up to the edge of the forest, they need to understand that there is not always sufficient fire fighting staffing to protect their homes.

— Larry R. George, Salem

There is some logic to the “let it burn” policy especially if the Federal Government guarantees that all the fire and smoke stays within the wilderness area and that the event is carbon neutral. I would prefer to see less wilderness designations and more productive use of our nation’s natural resources.

— Richard Pine, Salem

I agree with the Forest Service. If the fuels were left to burn there would be less "super" fires. Furthermore, many, if not most, of the homes being constructed in these near wildlife areas are by owners that appear ( based on the type of homes being built) perfectly financially capable of providing their own fire suppression anyway.

— David Earl, Silverton

Yes, I agree. If you live with trees, your home insurance or business insurance should have rider that one pays for if there is forest fire damage. Fires happen! A fact of living in the wilderness or near it. Trees are the lungs of our earth. We need them. The perpetrator needs to pay or be put to work on the fire line to pay for the damage done.

— Ann Watters RPE, BCPP, Salem

In a simple answer yes. If you build a home on the coast or in the "woods" nature rules. The bigger question is: "Can you afford the insurance?" if not do not live on the coast where floods/storms are the norm, or in the forests where nature is nature. The government (translated for those who don't get it) taxpayers should not be on the hook to bail them out of their bad luck.

— Burton King, Salem

Basically, you should be responsible for your own choices. If you choose to live in a forest, then you take your chances that there will be a fire and bye bye house. If you live in a flood plain, then you take your chances that there will be a flood and bye bye house. Oh well, your choice.

— Tony Weaver, Woodburn

Yes the Forest Service is correct.Too much is spent annually to protect the same areas over and over. People need to take more responsibility for their actions and understand the risks that face them in all situations. Too many people live in forested areas and don't even do the basics to minimally ensure their property's safety.

— Lew Hundley, Salem

Fires may be natural, but with the restrictions presently on logging due to liberal policies, fire is much more destructive. We should allow more logging, keep up replanting and also not allow homes in areas that are prone to burn. Just as you have flood zones, there should be fire zones where buildings should not be allowed except for structures needed for safety and service to the forested area.

— William K. Dettwyler, Salem

I do agree to point. People build homes in the path of hurricanes and tornadoes. When they are destroyed they just rebuild. Forest fires are a "fact" of life (Nature if you will). Our forest lands were here long before we were and they will be here long after we are gone. As bad,deadly, as forest fires can be we will never stop them. Control them, but we will never stop them.

— Kent Wilson, Salem

Fire is a necessary part of the ecosystem & we've known that for decades. But we have a myopic view that trees are wasted when they burn. We have no obligation to people who choose to live in the forest. That's a risk they assume, especially when we can't adequately fund our land management agencies. I wish that we'd spend more money on restoring forest health than fighting fire.

— Mike De Blasi, Keizer

It seems a reasonable premise. The Forest Service can’t, and shouldn’t, chase the hundreds of wildfires that occur due to natural causes – particularly those that are in isolated areas. Those that occur in populated areas though are a different matter. The foolhardy people who choose to live in or near forested areas need protection from wildfires, even though they may not deserve it.

— Woody Tiernan, Dallas

I agree with the most recent research of foresters, ecologists, biologists, scholars and other independent researchers that indicates that we need to reset out policies concerning suppression of wild fires - especially those that occur in wilderness areas. Fire has always been a part of nature and should continue to be. Those that choose to live in the forest should weigh the risks vs. benefits.

— Joe Koubek, Dallas

I totally agree. Having lived in eastern Oregon, I have seen firsthand the mess on the forest floors from dead and dying trees that we are not allowed to harvest so we don't upset enviros. Fire is a great cleansing agent for our forests, and need to be treated as such.

— Cheryl Eby, Salem

Sustainable forest management is a challenge; seeking to balance ecology and economy with encroachment. As former resident of the Okanogan Valley, I've experienced the fear of a forest fire cresting a ridge, my hospital on standby for evacuation, and treating fire-fighting injuries. A "Let it Burn" policy is not acceptable as long as we place value on lives, property and wildlife.

— G. Mick McLean, Lincoln City

Fire is indeed a natural part of the forest ecosystem. Too much fuel has been allowed to accumulate in our forests due to excessive fire suppression. If we can do controlled burns of select areas, then we ought to do so to avoid the catastrophic wildfires that we've seen in recent years.

— Dorian Atkins, Salem

Yes, fires are a natural part of ecosystems. Too few of them often result in excessive buildup of flammable materials and a potential for pest infestation. But of course we also need to protect existing structures and strive to minimize industrial and residential development in critical forested areas. The USFS strives to do this.

— Bert Wenner, Salem

I doubt if fire experts or the Forest Service compare fire to snowfall, rainfall, or wind. I've never seen a human unintentionally or deliberately start a snowfall, rainfall, or wind. The question remains, however: When to suppress and when to let nature do its thing?

— David Haber, Salem

Want to have your say?

Interested in joining our crew of Rapid Responders? Email Opinions Editor Carol McAlice Currie at ccurrie@statesmanjournal.com with your full legal name, address, telephone number and email address. All applications are vetted for authenticity. Each Thursday afternoon we submit a question to the members of the Rapid Response team. They have until noon Friday to submit a response. All responses are published Saturday afternoon at StatesmanJournal.com; some are printed in the Sunday newspaper.