People who live close to a national forest have to live with the fact that there is a policy by the National Forest Service to let fires burn if they are small. Many times this means that people's lives are endangered, as is their personal property. A rec
The fire in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is called the Tamarack Fire and started when lightning struck On July 4, 2021. CalFire, the state agency in California that deals with this, was dispatched and told by the NFS to stand down. On July 16, the fire spread out of control and, as of the time of this article, in two states. Over the month, this has needed many resources to gain even a three quarters containment. The fire has destroyed almost seventy thousand acres and 23 buildings since the initial lightning strike that occurred.
The policy to let fires burn has been in place since 1972. The Reagan Administration stopped it for a short while late in his second term when he found out about it. The policy was started back after he left office, but at the time there were 32 fires listed as natural disasters because of the policy. Many politicians see this as making sense to not have started it back and the repercussions of that are being felt now with fires like the Tamarack one. This is something that makes people wonder if there is an end in sight.
In 2016, there was a push to widen the policy of letting fires burn because the Forest Service saw this as a way of cleaning the ground without them needing to. They even said that there were not enough fires allowed to keep going and this was stopping natural processes. At that time, they used computer models to show how there could be good fires, even though there were also many instances of these fires spreading in ways that were a danger. The policy shifted the response from arguing to keep it going to arguing to put it out.
Even though there is widespread proof of the policy, both by their own documentation and historic news sources, the Forest Service claims the "let it burn" policy does not exist. Channel 10 in Sacramento approached them and was sent a response that they have a suppression policy instead. This is not what has been said since 1972, but this is coming from the response to the Tamarack fire. This is also following the fact news sources have been saying they are making changes. The confusion has people wanting there to be a clearer message sent out.
The Forest Service said that they did not have the resources to put out the Tamarack Fire when it was first spotted, even though they turned back CalFire. They did have the resources to allow members of the service to photograph the fire before it left what they saw as containment. California is suffering a drought currently and this is well known for causing fires to get out of hand. It also has members of Congress looking for answers that seem to come with confusing statements. This has caused these same members of Congress to start looking for ways to get solutions.
The Tamarack Fire is not the only fire that is currently happening in California, which means more lives and properties are at risk. This means someone has to pay for the damage, which will lead to insurance claims and people going to the government. While it does make sense to allow the forest floor to get cleaned out, it has been proven that this can be disastrous in times of drought. This has an impact on many levels that may take years to work through. In the meantime, this means that anyone living near national forests will have to wonder what will happen when a small spark happens.
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