This post is a followup to Matthew’s comment here.. in the quote below I removed the references to the firefighter deaths, as I think the ideas he expressed should be followed further aside from that context.
Some frequent commenters on this blog often call for the Forest Service and other land management agencies to put out all wildfires. Phrases like “we need to be more aggressive and put these fires out” are common both in this blog and in letters to the editor during fire season across the west. Often times some of these same commenters claim that more logging will prevent “extreme” wildfires.
Is “fuel reduction” work in chaparral and grass even possible? If not, will that prevent some people from using this tragedy to call for more logging?
(edited from Matthew’s original).
So I will introduce you to my logic path on this, as clear as I can be.
1. People and infrastructure live in and around fire-prone vegetation throughout the West.
2. Fires can have negative impacts to people and infrastructure due to both the original burn and later flooding.
3. The condition of fuels can make a difference in how expensive and or safe it is to fight fire to protect people and infrastructure.
4.. Therefore treatment of fuels around infrastructure and in strategic areas for future fire lines is important(this seems to be where OMB is not in agreement, for reasons that are not transparent at this time).
5. In some cases, these treatments can be used to grow food or fiber for people to use and the “extra” plant material can be used instead of burned.
6. “Use” instead of “burning or putting in a landfill” has social, economic and climate benefits, not least of which is the ability to do more fuels reduction because each treatment costs less.
Therefore, using plant material removed in fuel treatments can be a good thing.
I’d be interested in what others think about these assertions.