Is this the future of America’s national forests, or will Congress wake up before it is too late?
The immediate causes of the Southwest's wildfires vary: lightning strikes, careless campers and arson. But there are underlying factors- reasons why these fires are so large and so much more ferocious than any for which evidence exists in natural history-that add up to real problems for communities, firefighters and the nation.
Next to a nuclear explosion, there is no more lethal killing force on earth than a big forest fire. The most violent are called "blowups" because they are capable of exploding.
Since its inception in the aftermath of the Great 1910 Fire, the nation's forest fire-fighting policy has been closely tied to a conservation ethic of near biblical proportion: waste not, want not.
If we stop managing National Forests, they will decline and die, just as they've done at least 16 times since the last Ice Age.