Ray Ring's Wrong

  So Ray Ring wants us to stand back and let the forests burn (HCN, 5/26/03: A losing battle)?

Get real, dude.

Even if fires of the past were truly catastrophic, huge, epic or whatever, and are therefore ecologically desirable today (I disagree), the fact remains that there is a modern civilization now in place in the United States, indeed, across most of the world.

Modern civilization likes clear air, but at the same time, reasonably priced resources, responsibly produced.

Letting forests go up in Pompeiian blasts is dirty, dangerous, expensive, and flat-out irresponsible. Given the spectaculars of the past few years and seeing the end results (and paying for them, too), there has to be a better way — logging in mosaic patterns with afterburning.

Sell enough trees to pay for the work; design it using science, not ideology; use best practices, then burn afterwards to trigger the cycle — and you'll get a fire-ready forest in which fires burn, but only big enough to achieve habitat improvement — not annihilation.

Given the choice between (a) five 10,000-acre fires over five seasons, separated by defensible zones, burning only enough timber that could then go to the mill each year, and (b) a 50,000-acre nuclearization that leaves way too much good timber to rot, dumps way too much crud in the air and water, and zaps way too much habitat all at once ... Well, to reasonable people, there isn't any choice.

Dave Skinner
Whitefish, Montana