The wildfire in the Red River Gorge has left many of us smoldering, and for good reason. Abandoning a campfire is
not only lazy, inconsiderate, reckless, ignorant behavior, it is also illegal.
Leaving a campfire unattended may not only lead to a $500 fine, repaying the cost of fire suppression, and incarceration, it
endangers the lives of many heroic people who must fight the raging aftermath of carelessness.
On behalf of the many conscientious campers who are lamenting over the carnage, I offer the following "silver lining",
from the USFS Fire Science
"Since the beginning of time, fires have burned in the forest, playing a vital role in keeping the land healthy. Fire
reduces dead vegetation, replenishes nutrients in the soil, stimulates new growth, and maintains biological diversity. As
civilization moved deeper into the forest, fire came to be seen as an enemy that destroyed lives, property and natural
resources. As a result, the nation demanded that the Forest Service exclude fire from our environment, and we were mostly
successful for decades.
"Over time, it became apparent that our success had many unforeseen consequences. Without fire, our forests became
overcrowded and vulnerable to attacks by insects and disease.
"Today, we know that fire is essential to the health of our forest. Since conditions in many areas are conducive to large,
severe wildland fires, and because so many people now live in or near forests, we need fires to burn in a more controlled
way than is usually possible when they are caused by naturally occurring events such as lightning strikes. In order to
restore fire to its natural role in the forest, we ignite prescribed fires in the spring and fall when conditions allow
for slow, low intensity burning.
"Our forests need fire. By igniting prescribed fires, we can maximize the chance that they will burn on our terms with
acceptable effects. Or, we can wait until they burn on their own terms, with no control over the effects. The choice is
RRGtoday.com applauds the brave men and women who tirelessly put their own lives at risk to control wildfires. We
have undying respect and admiration for their hard work!