Last year we saw a massive fire go through Paradise California which was sparked in the Camp National Forest. Pacific Power and Electric is going to be blamed for starting the fire, but the Federal Forests are disasters waiting to happen. Every summer people cannot breathe when the fires are burning as massive tons of pollutants are released into the air not to mention unknown quantities of CO2. These forests fires are a crisis nobody is wanting to deal with because the answer is not what the government wants to hear. The Paradise fire killed nearly 100 people and destroyed nearly 20,000 homes in a beautiful community. This could happen in Oregon just as easy.
The politicians in DC have preached for decades if we set the forests aside they will magically become healthy old growth because man is no longer damaging them with selective planting. So the Forest Service has banned the loggers from the most valuable forests in the world and let them manage themselves since they think the forests can heal themselves. That is like telling a farmer to plow his fields under and if he would allow Mother Earth to run his farm there will suddenly be rows of corn for the next forty years if you think good thoughts.
The forests are a complex environment which needs to be managed or you will have the most aggressive species choking out the other trees and this is what we have going on now. The set aside program has allowed the fast growing trees such as Lodgepole Pine to overgrow choking out every other species including their own. These specie grows like a weed to reach the sun and grows in huge patches with the heartiest tree not allowing slower growing trees to get sunlight or water and minerals. This leaves millions of dying and dead trees standing in the forests.
The dead and dying trees are susceptible to disease and bugs such as the Pine Beatle which made a huge swath throughout the Cascades and Rockies fifteen years ago from the top of Canada to the Mexican border. The Pine Beatle added to the massive quantities of fuel in the forests drying in the sun adding to the fire hazard as these trees became tinder dry waiting to ignite into a raging fire.
After forty years of neglect thanks to legal activists like the Sierra Club, these forests have become hundreds of thousands of square miles of firewood waiting to burn. They used the bad science of the extinction of the Spotted Owl as an emotional tool to close the forests to logging which actually manages and eliminates those dead trees from the forest ecosystems making the forests healthier. The Spotted Owl science has been disproven when they found the Horned Owl was hunting the Spotted Owl into extinction. Now the forests are filled with these dead drying trees full of disease and bugs spreading to healthy trees and making that fuel load even heavier and the only way it is eliminated is by massive fires.
These dead trees and heavy underbrush has made these forest fires into furnaces which kill everything in their path. During one massive fire in Montana there were thousands of elk, deer, bear and every other species found dead after the fire. They become disoriented and trapped in the fire as their escape paths are choked off and succumb to the smoke and heat to be burned alive. These fires burn far hotter than any temperatures they have seen in the past. The average temperatures in the old forest fires or in properly managed forests used to be 700-800 degrees and now these blast furnaces are burning over 1000 degrees scorching everything in their path.
The blast furnace temperatures literally sterilize the earth. What this means is they sterilize the ground up to a foot into the soil which is where all the nutrients are. The forests are built on the complexity of micro-organisms in the ground and these fires are eliminating those microbes from the soil. These microbes and minerals do not come back to that soil for hundreds of years and nothing will grow in those areas for decades or hundreds of years due to the heat these forests are generating. When you actually get down to the microscopic life of the forests the chemical exchanges between the ground and the trees is a miraculous occurrence which these fires are destroying for hundreds if not thousands of years. The fragility of this relationship is being destroyed due to neglect causing these massive natural blast furnaces.
The only thing we can do to save the forests now is to begin managing them properly. They are dying on a massive scale and the fires are only going to get worse as more and more of these forested lands burn. They are seriously damaged with so much dead and dying fuel adding to the time bomb. We are likely only a decade or so from losing them completely as massive fires roll through sterilizing thousands of square miles for hundreds of years.
A group of concerned citizens have formed a group called Forests for Oregon to petition the government to sell the Federal Lands to the public like the Eastern States for proper management. It is time to begin healing the forests rather than worshiping them as they burn. These forests can become assets rather than liabilities if they would be managed properly and made into the gift God had intended they be.