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tantalus
06 Nov 14,, 13:25
An international team of fire experts have concluded that it is time to stop fighting fires and instead develop strategies to live with fire. In many areas, fire management is difficult or impossible, and interferes with fire's key role in the ecosystem. Instead, we should develop zoning & building codes and evacuation protocols to allow people to live with fire, just as we now live with earthquake and tornado hazards.

full article - Coexist or perish, new wildfire analysis says: Changing wildfire paradigm from fighting to coexistence -- ScienceDaily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105131937.htm)

The reality is that attempts to prevent fires outright in many regions have often resulted in severe disasters as vegetative biomass has built up to unprecedented levels resulting in record breaking fires. Fires, occurring with greater regularity would be smaller and less severe. In part, because we can control fires too an extent, we have approached fire management incorrectly on an ideological basis.

FJV
06 Nov 14,, 21:48
Like thinning out the forest around populated areas, by commercial logging?

Wouldn't that solve the entire problem, if it weren't for the fact that it is non politically correct?

tantalus
06 Nov 14,, 22:54
Like thinning out the forest around populated areas, by commercial logging?

Wouldn't that solve the entire problem, if it weren't for the fact that it is non politically correct?

Its complicated. In many instances that could make it worse depending on the vegetation that replaces the trees, or increase fine materials on the ground, and/or reduce the level moisture present in the resulting vegetative biomass. Only in some instances will tree thinning be an effective, economic measure in fire management. Economics are a factor because constant maintenance is required otherwise regrowth can proof even more dangerous. Furthermore, the large severe fires are not as easily controlled by thinning. To an extent I am playing the devil's advocate to show that thinning does not provide a simple solution if we could only ignore certain misguided elements of society who oppose it.

FJV
06 Nov 14,, 23:15
Thinning out the forest can in some cases be part of several measures that together form a solution.

Sounds to me like a reasonable answer.

tbm3fan
06 Nov 14,, 23:46
Thinning out the forest can in some cases be part of several measures that together form a solution.

Sounds to me like a reasonable answer.

Actually not so in California. Most trees here benefit from fire as it cause them to release the seeds in their cones from pines to redwoods to sequoias. Second, these trees for the most part, do not burn unless the fire gets too hot. How does it get too hot? From too much biomass on the ground or in simple terminology too much scrub. If fires occurred in this state, as in centuries past, they would be quick affairs burning off this biomass in a few minutes and opening the soil for new vegetation. We have natives here that haven't been seen in ages because they are only around the first two years after a fire. Instead let the biomass accumulate, turn the fire hot, ignite the trees and whip up a storm then all hell breaks loose. Consequently, we have areas here that haven't burned in a century and I don't have to imagine what will happen when it finally goes up. Fire has always been an important tool of Mother Nature and as always we don't know better than Mother Nature.

bonehead
09 Nov 14,, 22:06
There is no "one size fits all" approach to mother nature as each region has a different set of parameters. The problem has to be looked at on a case by case basis and a long term comprehensive plan needs to be established and adhered to. In Oregon some of the forest have huge build ups of biomass. In some cases crews are sent out to drag it into piles to dry over the summer and the piles are lit in the fall as the rains come. There is still plenty of fuel left for a quick fire as mother nature intended. Personally I would like any biomass to be extracted and used. Acceptable wood turned into wood pellets for instance. Fire fighting has changed through the years…allowing some fires to burn off. In my experience most foresters are not into thinning. They love clear cutting and that is the more destructive method. A thinned forest or old growth has a mix of trees, old and young. A place that has been clear cut dries out more in the summer, allowing a longer burn season. Then there is the danger of young replanted trees. a 20 year old stand of Doug fir has thin bark and a ton of sap. By late summer you have acres of basically standing match sticks. However where many trees have died as a result of insect infestation clear cutting may be the best method to removing the fire danger. Then there is the management of the local species. Central Oregon has seen Juniper trees expand its distribution and density. As a result year round creeks are now seasonal, the water table has dropped and other species have been "dried out". Removing a portion of the juniper trees has allowed the water table to come back and thus other species that required the water. Less chance of a catastrophic fire too. Other regions have differing problems so different solutions are needed. Then there is the issue of people living in the middle of such areas. Everyone wants to be the hero and snuff out the fire that threatens homes but too few ask if those homes really belong out there or if we should let them burn knowing the land will be better for it in the long run.