Will we manage fire or will fire manage us?

It’s not a matter of if fire occurs it’s a matter of when.

Fire is an essential evolutionary force on our planet.

The question becomes, will we manage fire or will fire manage us?

Can we Change?

We've convinced ourselves in North America for over 100 years that we've know best how to deal with wildfire. The policy of "the only good wildfire is one that isn't burning" has built up exponential fuel loads in our forests. We've built our communities into fire habitat and now have to face the situation we've created. Will we change our mindset to work with nature and wildfire or continue to fight against it?

North America Wildfires August 2018
North America Wildfires August 2018

History of Wildfire

How did we get here?

Wildfire is an evolutionary force that's co-evolved with plants and animals. North American First Nations worked with fire clearing areas with prescribed burns. Colonization brought new people and new ideas leading to the idea that - no wildfire was a good wildfire. What's the legacy of turning away from nature's patterns and adopting a mindset that "humans know best"?

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Accessed Feb 19 2019 http://www.californiachaparral.com/enativeamericans.html
Accessed Feb 19 2019 http://www.californiachaparral.com/enativeamericans.html

Current Wildfire Situation

Aug 2019 Canada Wildfire Interactive Map
Aug 2019 Canada Wildfire Interactive Map

Where are we now?

The 2018 wildfire season mades records for number of fires,  intensity of fires, not to mention damage and expense to extinguish wildfires. An extended wildfire season, increased temperatures and more lightening have created a hotbed of activity. Over 100 years of fuel build up has created a situation where is not a matter of if a wildfire burns it's a matter of when.

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Solutions

What can we do about it?

Nature bats first and last. Ecological patterns, fire regimes and natural cycles continue with or without our blessings. It's time to change our mindset and acknowledge North America is fire ecology. Prescription burns, improved ecological understanding and decision making to allow fires that pose low risk to human settlements are a good start to build our fire resiliency. Developing FireSmart homes and communities begin to acknowledge and work with nature, but that's only the beginning. We have to re-integrate natural patterns of a diverse and wet landscape that's resistant to and recovery quickly from fire.

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The Aggie Creek Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska Credit: Philip Spor
FireSmart Home Design
FireSmart Home Design
Tamara Water Retention Landscape
Tamara Water Retention Landscape

Will we manage fire or will fire manage us?

It’s not a matter of if fire occurs it’s a matter of when.

Fire is an essential evolutionary force on our planet.

The question becomes, will we manage fire or will fire manage us?

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