The summer of 2015 is now considered #4 in the amount of acres burned in the past 40 years. With all of the new technology, why are fires still plaguing our forests and ranges? Simply put, because we've been putting them out for so long. True, experts blame climate changes and drought, but fire is a natural occurring cleansing Mother Nature has used in the past to keep fires from becoming major conflagrations.
Fire has an important role in forest and rangeland ecology. Without fire, some plants can't generate new seedlings. Southern California's chaparral needs fire to thrive. The answer doesn't lie in better technology, or more firefighters, or pouring more money into fighting fire. What we should be doing is prioritizing thinning practices to reduce dense undergrowth encouraged by fire suppression, and discouraging the urban/wildland interface where homes are built dangerously close to primed-to-burn areas. The "Let it Burn" policy is not new, but often ignored because the minute the public sees their forests ablaze, they want them out. Now. Fire is good, and if the fire is not threatening homes or total devastation (after all, some forest is better than no forest), then the fire should be allowed to burn under careful surveillance. This is not an easy task, but it's obvious we aren't winning the fire wars by fighting them.