August 20, 2015
Bend Bulletin Letter to the Editor
I know, fires are burning, people are scared. It is a natural reaction, but it should not be the basis for more failed congressional policy.
Wildfires are natural — yes even in Oregon. When conditions are hotter and drier, more fires burn. This is how it has and always will be. In wetter years, when fire weather is low and moisture is high, we are able to suppress almost any fire that starts. This circumstance has come to be accepted as the norm, but it is not natural and we should not strive for this objective.
Fires need to burn to keep our forests healthy, to continue the ecological cycle known as natural succession, and to support and increase populations of native biodiversity — the best hedge we are going to have against climate change. Areas of old, mature forest that burn at high intensity create the best wildlife habitat in a forest.
Yes, habitat which is even better than old growth habitat. Even spotted owls benefit from the increase in prey abundance that follows a fire.
What Congress needs to do is pass legislation that eliminates wasting taxpayer money on wildland firefighting and instead focuses on reducing the flammability of homes in the wildland/urban interface and fighting only those fires that are adjacent to communities.
We need to coexist with fire and not pretend, through misguided legislation, that we can or should prevent it from happening.