Getting Bureaucrats Out of the Way of Forest Management

Forest restoration. ©BLM

Now that the blazes have burned out, Montana should reassess what it can do to reduce future wildfire risk. As our fire seasons become longer, more severe, and more expensive, we must improve forest management across the 85 percent of Montana forests at elevated risk of wildfire. Prescribed burns need to be a part of the solution.

By applying a small amount of fire in the right place at the right time, we can reduce future fires. Prescribed burns, also called controlled burns, are small fires applied to a landscape under specified weather conditions to reduce fuel loading and restore health to fire-dependent ecosystems. It sounds counterintuitive to start fires to stop fires, but by burning overgrown brush and hazardous fuels in low-intensity fires during low-risk weather conditions, prescribed burns prevent the overwhelming fuel buildups that allow wildfires to grow to catastrophic infernos.

The benefits of prescribed fire have been seen on the ground this fire season. When the Bootleg Fire ripped through Oregon scorching more than 413,000 acres and destroying nearly 200 homes, the Sycan Marsh Preserve remained intact. Treated with prescribed burns and selective thinning, the preserve lands withstood the flames—the fire burned closer to the ground and left tree crowns green and mature trees alive.

Read the full article at the Frontier Institute.

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