Alan Wickert: Fire an issue, pine beetle or not |

Alan Wickert: Fire an issue, pine beetle or not

Alan Wickert

For several years I attended many of the Our Future Summit Pine Beetle Task Force meetings and I read the news and attended the presentations and discussions on mountain pine beetle and the destruction of our trees. “We are going to or are likely to have a devastating fire as a result of the dead and dying trees” was the message almost always conveyed.

What we are asked to conclude is the idea that we should protect our lands and houses from the threat of a “big fire” which brings me to the point of this letter. Pine beetle or not, we have always been in an area that has a major threat from wildfire, and it has always been in our best interest to do what we can to mitigate that danger. With some 80 percent of the county being forest lands, it has always been in our best interest to use best practices and build defensible space. Note that green trees burn hotter than brown, maybe not faster, but hotter. Even so, we do need to do something about the dead trees because the fire danger is greater when they eventually fall down. Action should and must be taken before that time. As we do this and get into the replant mode and as, hopefully, we are able to use Ali Hasan’s enthusiasm to get the U.S. Forest Service to do its part, we should think defensible space and fire break lanes. By the way, we have been successful with our spraying and BeetleBlock pheremone program in the Swan River Valley and we do have green trees with defensible space, pine beetle or not.

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