Paradise Is Burning
Our approach to fighting wildfires is a fantasy—and it’s making them even more catastrophic.
For decades, the official fire policy of the Forest Service was to put out all fires as soon as they appeared. That might seem logical, but there is such a thing as a good fire, the kind that helps stabilize ecosystems and promotes biodiversity. Native American communities understood this and regularly practiced light burning. So why did the Forest Service ignore this in favor of unabated fire suppression?
In 1910 a massive fire known as “the big blow up” or “the big burn” devastated northern Idaho and Western Montana. It left a huge mark on the then five-year-old Forest Service and had consequences we still see today.
Photo: U.S. Forest Service
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