Smokey the Bear is still the voice of the Forest Service’s fire management policy, but nowadays he carries a drip torch and likes to see flames in the woods. Has the pendulum swung too far?
To Burn or not to Burn?
Fire is an important component of many ecosystems, especially in forests of the dry West. However fire is less of a factor in North Georgia than in almost any other region of the country. Why? Because of the topography and very high average annual rainfall. Our moist forests and steep slopes don’t support the kind of widespread hot fires that have driven the Forest Service’s new “fuel reduction” prescribed burning policies.
ForestWatch advocates using prescribed burning on ecologically-appropriate sites, where fire regimes (fire intensity and time between burns) may vary. We believe that in North Georgia wildfire generally poses no significant threat of destruction to the forest or adjacent private property, and we oppose indiscriminate prescribed burning based on imposing western-style assumptions on our Southern Appalachian moist temperate forests. However, we do support site-specific burning to accomplish well-defined objectives, along with monitoring to verify and document the results.
Want more info?
The following Forest News articles show how our understanding of fire has evolved:
- Winter 2017: “Fire and No Rain“
- Winter 2014: “Prescribed Burning in Our National Forests”
- Summer 2007: “Smokey’s Conundrum: Prescribing Fire on the Blue Ridge”
- Winter 2005/06: “Role of Fire in the Southern Appalachian Mountains”
- Fall 2005: “Human Fire Evidence in the Southern Appalachians”
- Spring 2005: “To Burn or Not to Burn”
- Fall 2004: “Fire Management in the Forest Plan”