Fight Fire with Fire



bruset said:,21133,670477,00.html

Sorry, Renee, I beat you to it. :)

Cool! Didn't know it had a write-up!

I was there, and so were Bob M and German from PBE were also there. And Dr. Emile too. :p An interesting day, regardless of your viewpoint.



I think the small, controlled burns that the NJ Forest Service is currently doing where they clear the forest floor and enrich the soil is just fine. These so-called ecological burns are a dumb idea.

What happened to the logging that had been taking place in the Pine Barrens not so long ago to re-create savanahs, followed by controlled burns to get the undergrowth and smaller debris? Here, you mimick nature by creating, restoring savannahs and thinning forests and you save tax money. Excessive burning is pollution, which was brought out in the workshop.

It boils down to a basic concept of land management. Using fire, because it is "natural" is good just because it is natural. Logging, followed by a controlled burn isn't as good because that's not the way nature did it and humans are involved. So what if humans are involved. What are we? Chopped liver? We have the power to do things animals can't (and they even manipulate the environment) and have been given dominion over the earth, so why not use it responsibly?

I guess that for some people pollution by fire is OK. It is laughable for an environmentalist to support having big fires for ecological purposes when it creates pollution. Isn't environmentalism about abating pollution? Oh, but of course, this is the natural kind so it's OK.

The controlled, relatively small fires from the controlled burns more closely mimicks nature than would this nutty proposal to create big fires. Before humans started stopping fires, the naturally occurring fires were small. This was because there were naturally occurring savanahs and the space between the trees were such that monster fires wouldn't spread too far.

Logging and small controlled burns have proven a successful way to keep forests healthy, as documented on the links I posted about the True Environmentalists.

Here's Texas A & M Professor Thomas Bonnicksen's testimony about why the exclusive use of fire is a bad idea to manage the forest ecology:

4. Prescribed fire is not the answer

Prescribed fire would come closer than any tool toward mimicking the effects of the historic Indian and lightning fires that shaped most of America’s native forests. However, there are good reasons why it is declining in use rather than expanding. Most importantly, the fuel problem is so severe that we can no longer depend on prescribed fire to repair the damage caused by over a century of fire exclusion. Prescribed fire is ineffective and unsafe in such forests. It is ineffective because any fire that is hot enough to kill trees over three inches in diameter, which is too small to eliminate most fire hazards, has a high probability of becoming uncontrollable.

The danger of escaped fires, such as the tragic Los Alamos fire, also poses a serious constraint on prescribed burning because of the hazards to human life and property. On average, a prescribed fire is likely to escape control for each 20,000 acres burned. That means there could be as many as 243 escaped fires a year given the number of acres burned to carry out the National Fire Plan. This is unacceptable since there are nearly 94,000 homes at risk in just the Sierra Nevada. It is unknown how many homes are at risk throughout the West. Not only that, there are very limited opportunities when all of the factors such as fuel loading, fuel moisture, existence of defensible perimeters, temperature, and wind are at levels that make it relatively safe to conduct a prescribed burn.

Finally, prescribed fire can also be destructive in forests that are not too thick to burn. Dense piles of litter that built up for more than a century now surround large old trees in many forests. Burning this litter, even with a very light fire, sends enough heat into the soil to kill the largest trees by cooking their roots. This is unnatural and it is already happening to thousands of valuable old trees in the Sierra Nevada as well as in Southwestern ponderosa pine forests.

Prescribed fire is an essential tool, but it is still expensive, costing about $1.5 billion a year to treat the required acreage in the National Fire Plan. In addition, the unsightly pall of wood smoke hanging over mountains and valleys, burning eyes, health hazards, and air pollution restrictions also will prevent widespread and frequent burning even as maintenance treatments. For example, Colorado had to restrict prescribed burning because Denver must reduce power generation to comply with Federal laws whenever wood smoke hangs over the city. There are also too few trained personnel available to conduct the burns. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to add 4.9 million acres of prescribed burns a year to the acreage already being burned for slash removal and other purposes

ALTHOUGH different views were presented at the meeting, it seems like the people in charge want to cater to those folks who want make big forest fires to keep things natural, although it would more than likely exceed EPA clean air standards and pose a risk. I guess this shows a difference in leadership, where rules are arbitrary. On the federal level, people in local communities would get to participate in the U.S. Forest Service hearings, but felt it futile because the extreme environmentalists would overide them by hook or crook. Fortunately, this is changing, with reforms to prevent this bullying, at least at the federal level. In New Jersey it may be a different story.


Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
Pines; Bamber area
JeffD said:
What happened to the logging that had been taking place in the Pine Barrens not so long ago to re-create savanahs, followed by controlled burns to get the undergrowth and smaller debris?

You know, now that you mention it Jeff, there was one guy there that suggested mechanical harvesting of the valuable resources.

Everyone turned to him and said: "what do you mean"?

Lumber! He shouted. Its free for the taking! His eyes began to bulge and he appeared to be sweating.

One of the scientists said..."but Sir, we are mainly talking about hot burns in the pygmy forest. Not only is it quick, but it is only done every 10 years, and because the trees are dwarf sized, the smoke is not that big a deal. It blows out to sea anyway. You see, the end of America and all our pollution problems end at the sea, it only 5 miles away"

You idiots, the man shouted, you are burning a valuable resource and causing the loss of thousands of jobs in an economically depressed area! The veins were now standing out on his neck and forehead.

But Sir, said the scientist, what can you make out of dwarf pines, they are all crooked and twisted!

Many many toothpicks and chopsticks, shouted the man. We could make millions exporting to China!

After that he left the meeting, since everyone ignored him.....I felt bad for him, but, thats life. Some people just don't give up, even when they are licked.


Bob, if the case is that these so-called ecological burns are to be done in the pygmy forests near the sea every ten years, then this should have been the preface to the proposal and should have been the lead in the news story about the meeting. I think I know where this area is. I've passed it I believe either on route 72 heading towards the shore below route 539 or on 539 south of its intersection with 539. If this is the case, using fire to thin out this forest doesn't seem such a bad idea. Of course, it should be done in the winter and when the wind is blowing out to sea. Again, why wasn't the specifics the lead? It should have been the first thing out of anyone's mouth. Of course, people could be making stuff up as they go along. It wouldn't be the first time we got envirobamboozled. :roll: :shock:

Ben Ruset

Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
Monmouth County
But Sir, said the scientist, what can you make out of dwarf pines, they are all crooked and twisted!

Many many toothpicks and chopsticks, shouted the man. We could make millions exporting to China!

What a moron. I fail to see how cutting the trees down, shipping them to the west coast, and transporting them to China can make any economic sense.

I'm sure China has enough of their own trees to cut down to make novelties with.

Now if we could unload some of that bog iron we have lying around, we could have that made into miniature Buddah statues like they have for sale in Chinese resteraunts!


Cutting crooked, dwarf trees would indeed be uneconomical, especially with the union wages that would have to be payed. :jaw:

I like the idea of using pig irons to make buddas, though. I think some of the enviros would like something home grown that is non western.

Seriously, though, there are nuts on both sides.

Are you sure, Bob, this isn't something you just made up? I know there are people like that, but it was quite a convienient reply to the question about the renewed, increased logging, to recreate savanahs, and the tree thinning projects that started several months ago in the Pine Barrens.

The dwarf pine forests are very much like brush, and would constitute the "small stuff" that is left after logging after which a controlled burn is in order. But all the hoopla from folks like Emile Divito about the NJ Forest Service being well meaning but they should stop their current silvicultural practices and his comments about controlled burns being cold and creating a wasteland leads me to believe that at least he, and likeminded individulals want something more than to burn pgymy forests every ten years. I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night. And Emile must be related to Danny Divito, because what he says is quite comical.