Writers Corner: Essays from a Trail Adopter

November 2007

Yikes! Double Hot Forest Fires!

Todays North American forests are a different breed than generations past. This is mostly because we have been almost too careful with fire. For a long time we have thought that the less fire the better, saving wildlife and wildlife habitat. However, scientists have found that moderate burning is natural and healthy for forests.

For example, some species of pine trees require the heat of flames to melt the wax which hold the seed in place. Hence, the seeds can then drop to the ground and take to the soils.

Also, without natural burning, the forest floors have become a mess of highly flammable undergrowth which burns at an outrageous temperature and rate. The thick undergrowth makes it impossible for wildlife to escape when fires occur.

There is such a thing as prescribed burns when sections of the forest are purposely set a fire in order to promote healthy growth. Sometimes prescribed burns can get out of control, leading to hot, devastating fires. Even our modern day efforts to extinguish massive forest fires are puny at best, like a circus side show.

So, when you venture into our North American forests, please remember that forest fires spell double trouble.

Submitted by James David Christmas: AMC Trails Volunteer