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Fire as 'tool' an arrogant concept

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Dear HCN,

After reading Louise Wagenknecht's essay (HCN, 5/7/01: The year it rained money) and Mark De Gregorio and Lester Wood's responses (HCN, 6/18/01: Smokey's secret is out), I am more than ever convinced of the danger and arrogance of the use of the word "tool" for the practice of prescribed burning. How can we be so confident as to call a force of nature a "tool"? If we are in such control of it, why do we need a "suppression" program? Or fire "fighters"? Why not fire "managers"? If we really believe that prescribed burning is like any other tool in our forestry toolbox, then I think we need to have this tool taken away from us until we know how to "use" it with more caution and humility.

Shirl Harrington
Santa Fe, New Mexico

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