Burn it, bit by bit

 

In recent years, we have watched the lodgepole pines of the Fraser Valley and many other parts of Colorado succumb to the pine beetle's voracious appetite (HCN, 11/10/08). This has resulted in a tinderbox, just waiting for the right conditions to all go up in flames. I have no faith that timber companies would do the right thing and thin the dead trees without also taking the healthy ones. However, we do need to do something to mitigate the danger of it all burning at once. How about finding a middle ground where firebreaks are established in these areas, so that when they inevitably do burn, the forest will burn section by section rather than all at once? Perhaps we can avoid a disaster that way. Maybe common sense will prevail, and we will reach a compromise that will protect the watershed and even allow some of the lumber to be salvaged. Perhaps this could be overseen by the Forest Service so as to be effective. A compromise may not make either side happy, but would probably be best for the forest, the wildlife, the residents and the millions of people who depend on the Colorado River for their water.

Adam Guilford