U.S. Forest Service Policy a Contributor to Massive Forest Fires


Image courtesy of Toa55 / freedigitalphotos.net

A recent Time magazine online post suggests that one of the causes of the increase in larger forest fires has been (surprise!) the U.S. Forest Service. How are they contributing to the increase in large wildfires? Their firefighting policy involves putting out any and all forest fires, even if the fire started naturally. This means that the natural process of rejuvenation, by which forest fires get rid of dead, dry trees making way for new trees, is disrupted. It resigns our forests to becoming havens of dead trees which allow forest fires to spread massively and quickly into large conflagrations.

The Time article mentions climate, humans, and the forest service as the main contributors to increasing intensity and number of forest fires, but admits these conflagrations were a part of the southwest long before humans and are a natural process in a healthy ecosystem. Despite this admission that it is a natural process of a healthy forest, the last paragraph concludes that “So forest fires are bad.” It certainly can be bad for humans living in the area, but to conclude that forest fires generally are bad is disingenuous at best.