Wildfire Reinforces the Need to “Fight Fire with Fire”
As wildfires once again wreak havoc across the western United States, we are reminded how critical off-season forest management practices are to slowing spread and reducing intensity.
Chief among those management practices is the use of prescribed fire — using strategic and controlled burns under conditions approved and monitored by firefighting professionals to manage landscapes and support habitat diversity. Prescribed burning removes excess vegetation from forest floors that serves as kindling in dangerous, fast-moving wildfires. Prescribed burning is a centuries-old practice critical to forest health and provides ecological benefits to indigenous plants and animals.
In New Mexico, The Taos Ski Valley Foundation (TSVF), the local affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, has partnered with a number of non-profit organizations to maintain 14,000 acres of forestland using prescribed burning and thinning practices. Groups such as the Forest Stewards Guild also offer employment and education opportunities for youth through forest-management projects.
In North Carolina, experience shows how well prescribed fire can work. The Orton Foundation, the NC affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, supports projects that enhance almost 78,000 acres of the longleaf pine ecosystem. Longleaf pine forests that once encompassed more than 90 million acres spanning Virginia to Texas have been reduced to just three percent of their original footprint. Sustained efforts by national and state organizations like America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative play a critical role in the ongoing restoration of this species.
This age-old practice has numerous benefits that help reduce the enormous toll that wildfire has on not only our landscapes but also the people and ecosystems that call it home. When it comes to our precious forests, it really is good to fight fire with fire.