Paul Hessburg advocates for local populations to take control of their fire safety plans in a era when fires are burning hotter, stronger and larger than ever. Mega Fires are an unintended consequence of decades of fire supression, leaving unnaturally large amounts of combustible fuel on forest floors. Soil profiles in North America contain a strong historical record indicating 4-10% of North American forest land burned in any given year prior to fire suppression policies.
We visited a recent site that came perilously close to burning down the city of John Day, two years ago. There he talked about the resiliency of the ecosystem to respond, and thrive, after fires. On the ground and along a small creek, new growth flourishes aided by nutrients left behind from the fire.
Passions run deep regarding how to combat the rise of mega fires. Fire suppression over the past 75 years is now seen as the primary reason today’s fires are growing more intense. One solution is to let nature take its course and allow some fires to burn naturally. Other solutions include selected logging and grazing, and creating buffer zones around towns and structures.
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