We all hear about devastating forest fires on the news, and from time to time we
are affected by one in person. Have you ever wondered why fires have become so volatile
in recent years? Forest fires have become increasingly dangerous in the past decade due
to more factors than you might know. The reason that forest fires have become so
dangerous in recent years is due to the lack of forest management leading to the build up
of flammable material and rising temperatures coupled with increased lightning storms
due to climate change.
(Forest Service 1). This along with the spread of the populous into
forested areas have made fires If we invested more time in taking care of our forests we
would spend less time fighting fires and more time enjoying the aesthetics of our lovely
forests. Budget cuts in our forestry department have left our forest more vulnerable to
fires than before humans started micromanaging forest fires. Since we have stopped
natures' control burn we must make control burns a requirement in forest management
and return to the forest what we have been depriving it.
We must do this in order to
preserve on of our most precious resources; our forest. This is the resource that takes the
carbon dioxide and turns it back into oxygen, the resources that have the most influential
impact on global warming. If we continue to let our forests burn the way they have been
then they will continue to burn until there is no forest left at all. At this point spending a
little bit of the government budget on control burns won't seem like such a hassle after
Forest Fires are caused as a result of either human or natural causes. Today more
fires are started as a result of human mishaps in nature than because of nature itself
(Trego 600). In fact, humans have destroyed the forests more than they know. Not only
have we logged most of the forests of the great west we have destroyed it by not allowing
it to burn. Now this must sound crazy that by not allowing the forest to burn we have
actually destroyed it, but it's true. While we have logged and inhabited most of the land
that was once covered by forests the rest has been disrupted of its ordinary cycle. This
cycle includes the regular burning as a result of fires started from lightning strikes. These
fires used to be no trouble to forests at all as they would burn the shrubs, saplings and
brush and leave the larges trees standing tall. These naturally occurring burns allowed the
trees to adapt to fire over time and many of the trees in the forest actually have developed
fire resistant bark so that they can withstand the heat of a forest fire and still survive. That
is, until humanity messed everything up. Starting shortly after the installment of the
department of the forestry they began to fight forest fires with great intensity. The flames
are put down and the forest is unable to benefit from the burn. Over time, there is a build
up of brush and small tree growth in the forests. Now these spot fires are nearly
impossible to put out because they burn so much faster and hotter than they did before
due to there being more fuel available for the flames to lap up.
The reason that the government started putting out all fires on the spot is because
as westward expansion took America by storm setters inhabited many areas that were
once considered wilderness. Today, there are very few areas of forest that aren't close to
some sort of home or structure. Now almost every single fire is potentially threatening to
humans and their property so they must all be put down. This unfortunate for the forest
though because it would really benefit from some sort of burn.
Forests are actually naturally resistant to forest fires, but the fires that burn
through them today are so hot that even the full-grown trees cannot withstand the inferno.
If more of the government's budget were spent on taking care of the forest and preventing
these fires then less would have to be spent on putting them out. In two thousand ten the
amount spent on suppressing forest fires reached an all-time high at nearly four and a half
billion dollars (Trego 609).
Taking better care of our forest is a must if we want to have any real chance of
fighting global warming. If we keep burning and cutting our forests down at this rate we
will very shortly have no forest left at all. The solution lies in carful wildfire prevention
and even more responsible harvesting of timber. "Timber harvests can be designed to
mimic natural disturbance and create habitat for some species that depend on a forest's
recovery” (Swanson 1). If we harvest timer more responsibly it can actually benefit the
forest instead of destroying it. By leaving some of the trees it might not be as profitable
as clear cutting, but the logging industry won't have to replant because the forest will re
grow itself. Furthermore the wildlife will not be entirely displaced as they would be after
a clear cut.
Unfortunately if we don't start doing more to prevent forest fires we will have no
forests left to clear-cut. The most well recognized methods to prevent forest fires are
“mechanical cutting, prescribed burning and creation of fire breaks” (Trego 618).
Dedicating more of the Federal budget to help promote these three methods of fire
prevention would actually end up saving money in the long run along with saving our
Saving the forest of North America is incredibly important not only because of its
breathtaking beauty or the fact that it is the hoe to thousands of different species of
wildlife, but because the entire ecosystem of the earth depends on it. The forests of North
America take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year than the rest of the
worlds forests combined. The impact is clearly seen on a graph indicating rising carbon
dioxide levels in the earth's atmosphere. The dip in carbon dioxide each year is credited
to the forests of North America taking the carbon dioxide and using it in photosynthesis
in order to survive. This is the breath of planet earth. We are literally letting the lungs of
our planet burn up in a puff of smoke. We need our trees in order to keep our ecosystem
balanced but increased carbon emissions and less trees to deal with them are pushing
CO2 levels in the wrong direction.
If we are to save the planet we love then we must save our forests from burning
up. While it might not make great economic sense at the moment to devote our funding to
help manage our forests, it will pay great dividends in the long run. Instead of sitting here
thirty years from now after all of our forests have burned up and thinking; "hey, we
probably could have prevented this from happening!” we could act now and start a
federal fund to manage the forests so that future generation can enjoy them as we have. If
we do this then it wont matter whether a human or a lightning strike starts a forest fire.
The idea is that if we do enough to the forest to help manage their flammability then
lightning strikes and stray cigarette butts will not start these huge raging infernos. Rather,
they will start fires that can be easily put out (if thy are endangering a populated area) or
will put themselves out.