Essay on Wildfire Mitigation

2969 Words12 Pages
Wildfire Mitigation

Thesis: Politicians are proposing sweeping changes in bills, which have caused great controversy, in efforts to correct the problems that the Forest Service has faced in restoration projects. Are these bills necessary or is there a better solution that politicians are overlooking?


Humans have been changing the Western forests' fire system since the settlement by the Europeans and now we are experiencing the consequences of those changes. During the summer of 2002, 6.9 million acres of forests was burnt up in the West (Wildland Fires, 1). This figure is two times the ten year annual average, and it does not look like next summer will be any better (Wildfire Season, 1).
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Occasionally, during periods of high rain the brush would grow up and the high winds would spread the fire to the tops of the trees creating canopy fires in tress that were otherwise fire-resistant (like the Ponderosa Pine). These canopy fires, however,were not as destructive as the ones that the West is experiencing today because of how the forest was spaced out. If a canopy fire broke out in one area, it would be contained by the grassland border, and be reduced to a low intensity grass fire which would eventually burn out. This meant that some areas of forests would be severely damaged; some would experience moderate damage, while still others might not even have fire. The effect of this kind of sporadic fire was the key to maintaining the mosaic landscape of the West.

Human Causes:

The dynamics of the forests changed with the introduction of the Europeans. The frequent grass fires were eliminated after a hundred years of cattle and sheep grazing. This meant that brush was able to accumulate and more seedlings and fire intolerant trees were able to mature. The Europeans also utilized the wood resources that surrounded them. Extensive logging in areas, removed all the best Ponderosa pines leaving the area virtually clear-cut. This opened area allowed more seedlings and saplings to mature because there were no
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