An Oct. 3 story reported, “Huckleberry fields benefit from flames: Joint effort between Forest Service, Yakama Tribe aimed at restoring productivity in Gifford Pinchot through controlled burns,” regarding hundreds of acres of forest land near the Sawtooth Huckleberry Fields.
In reading this story, one may have wondered, what possible value can the devastating consequences of fire bring to such a luscious area? For the past century, humans have generally found fire to be nothing more than the uncontrolled demolition of vast amounts of wildlands, a leviathan that must be stopped.
Though I certainly do not propose that we allow wildland fires to consume hundreds of thousands of acres each year, we must remember that fire was once a natural forest cleanser that actually worked to promote forest health, as discussed in a publication by Colorado State University, “Good Fire, Bad Fire.”
Controlled burns, like these at Sawtooth, remind us that out of the ashes come new life and a revitalized ecosystem. Such burns are a proactive, safe, and responsible way to reintroduce fire as a key ingredient to forest health, revitalizing these ecosystems and helping to impede the growth of wildland fires when uncontrolled ones flair up.