Smokey Bear is still loose and spreading the same old lies, according to the ad in your paper on page 26 (EW, 8/8). The old slogan “Only YOU can prevent wildfires” is a gross misrepresentation of reality, and continues to keep the public afraid and uninformed.
The reality is that fire cannot be prevented, and certainly not by you. We have been lied to in order to protect timber industry assets. Our forests will burn. And that is the way it always has been.
Setting intentional fires is a central cultural practice in traditional indigenous land management practices across the continent. Fire supports vibrant, diverse, abundant ecosystems. Even intense forest fires that kill many trees are part of a natural process and benefit many wildlife species.
Without fire, forests become clogged and overcrowded and all the life there suffers. I recommend reading Chad Hansen at johnmuirproject.org for more.
Prescribed fire is needed to return the forest to balance after over a century of intentional fire suppression policy. We should be putting more fire on the ground through supporting the work of Tribes and other prescribed fire practitioners. Non-indigenous people have an opportunity to learn from the traditional land management practices of the people who have been living here for centuries.
If we want any choice in how the forests burn, then we must start setting as many prescribed fires as we can. Support more funding for fire prescription, and less funding and propaganda for fire suppression.