Originally posted by ANNED
The Colorado fire are in a area where they have not had a major fire in 100 years.
This lead to major overgrowth and a lot of dead ground cover and bark beetle infestations
This was just plain lack of good forest management. because the treehuggers don't like winter controlled burns to thin things out'
You're on the right track. I used to be in wildland fire management. There were three areas that we focused on: Suppression, Fire Use, and
To say that it is lack of good forest management is somewhat true, and somewhat false. You have to look back over the last 100 years of our "fire
management". At the beginning, we (as in the populous in general) had a very hands off approach. Fires were left to burn. As time progressed, and
"we" started moving out of the urban/suburban areas, and started building houses that bordered on forest land, the strategy turned to suppression.
This suppression strategy is really what has harmed us. The buildup of fuels from these activities has hampered healthy forests.
Back to my areas of expertise. First off: Suppression. This is used in majority of incident responses. The reasons vary from most importantly,
human life then next property. You have to understand that forest have value. Whether it be for harvesting purposes or for public usage.
Fire Use (the "Let it Burn" strategy). This is sort of new to the fire management realm. The real benefits of Fire Use were realized during the
Yellowstone fires of 1988 (might have been 1989). The regrowth from a "nuked" fire area was alarming to most if not all forest managers. They were
under the impression that a fire burning that intensely and for such a duration would "sterilize" the ground. The reasonings for this were from
Southwest area fires that had burned 50 years prior and still had not seen proper vegetation regrowth. The current Fire Use strategy has a number of
"go/no-go" checklists to actually get it to be classified as "Fire Use". The first and foremost is that the area where the fire started has been
allocated as a "Fire Use Area". The second and almost as important criteria is that the fire has to be naturally started (i.e. Lightning caused).
Getting an area designated Fire Use requires major planning and coordination with various levels of government from the local level all the way up to
the national level.
Prescibed Fire. This strategy is usually used for resource improvement. Getting a "mosaic" pattern in the vegetation promotes a stronger habitat
for plants and wildlife. The mosaic pattern is basically saying in a block of land (say an acre), the fire would be encouraged to burn only parts of
that block, leaving old vegetation in areas to promote regrowth. The problems with Prescribed fires though is that it requires almost perfect
conditions to even initiate the burn. These conditions include weather (temps, wind, relative humidities), fuels (this is the term for
vegetation(fuel moistures have to be in a certain range)), time of year (usually take place in spring or fall where atmospheric conditions and burn
windows are optimal). In my experience, I've been on several burns that were either postponed or cancelled due to the above conditions not being
In Colorado, this is very evident why prescribed fire has not been used in recent years. Drought conditions, urban interface, and beetle infestation
has sort of "tied" managers hands. The best way I could see parts of CO pulling off a successful prescribed burn would be to clear-cut portions of
the forest, pile it up, and wait 2-3 years for them to cure, and then wait for the storm of the century to hit before lighting each pile. Fiscally it
is impossible to pull that off.
It is a mess, but managers are becoming more acceptive of alternative resource management besides suppression. They do realize that it is causing
more intense fires to burn. The fuel loading in most if not all forests is to be honest, an epidemic. Very unhealthy stands of forest, and very much
the reason the beetle infestation has happened (but also the beetle thing is a cyclical event, happening every century or so), have caused these high
Oh and Smokey Bear is not your friend. The mantra of "Only you" has been part of the reason fires have grown in intensity. Let it burn should be
the saying of the future and is slowly being adopted. Just need to get these homeowners that build their multi-million dollar mansions right next to
the woods to be a little smarter. There are ways of protecting your house and from experience the majority of them would rather have a rustic looking
building that is un-saveable than to use government programs designed to help save their property (FireWise). Also insurance co's need to stop
covering these homes that don't do any structure improvements or make any attempt to make their property more fire resistant.