Thursday, March 07, 2013

Forest Service Hits Reverse on Firefighting Policy

For decades, the U.S. Forest Service let small fires in remote areas burn naturally in recognition that fire was part of the natural landscape - and that by letting some fires burn, future large fires could be prevented. Last year, however, every fire was battled unless granted special status. That's been recognized as part of the reason the Forest Service spent more than $1 billion fighting fires in 2012. Now, the agency is taking the "fight all fires" directive off the books. Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior conservation associate at the Idaho Conservation League, said plenty of science and economic sense are behind the decision. "Putting out every single fire is not good for firefighter safety, it's not good for the environment, and it's not good for the bottom line and the taxpayers," he said. The forest official who required that all fires be suppressed in 2012 had a goal of keeping all fires small...more

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