Paradise Is Burning

Our approach to fighting wildfires is a fantasy—and it’s making them even more catastrophic.

Episode 279 | July 20, 2021

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.

Credits  |   Resource List   |   Transcript


Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago
Senior Producer: Mariel Carr
Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Audio Engineer: Jonathan Pfeffer

Photo: U.S. Forest Service

Resource List

Distillations: The Best of Intentions
Year of Fires

Flame and Ruin: The fires of 1910


Please check back for this episode’s transcript.