Should Wildfires Be Allowed to Burn  Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

control of wildfires continues despite growing evidence that fire is necessary for good woodland health. Some authorities maintain that wildfires should be allowed to take their course while others argue that fires are dangerous events that need to be controlled in every case. To determine the facts, this paper reviews the literature in support of the proposition that wildfire can co-exist with humans and should be allowed to burn when it ignites "naturally." A discussion concerning whether fires that are accidentally started should that be treated differently is followed by an analysis of whether prescribed fire is worth the expense and smoke? Finally, an evaluation of Smokey the Bear as a good spokesperson for the whole issue of wildfire or whether he is biased is followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning wildfire in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

The earth is a fundamentally a planet of fire, born in fire and shaped by fire for billions of years, including up to the present day. Given the enormous destructive potential of fire, it is not surprising that humankind has a primordial fear of fire that has translated into an overarching desire to control it. In some cases such as fires in urban settings, this is just good sense because property and lives are at stake and the consequences of uncontrolled fire can be devastating. In other settings such as forests, though, fire can be a positive force because it helps burn off accumulated debris on the forest floor that can impede healthy growth (Keiter 301). These issues have become the focus of a growing controversy over proper fire-control policies across the country. For instance, Keiter advises that, "A spate of record-setting fire seasons have seen millions of acres burned, hundreds of homes destroyed, numerous lives lost, and multi-million dollar fire suppression bills" (302).

Despite the potential for harm to humans, the story is far different when it comes to forests and federal authorities have recognized the importance of fire for health ecosystems (Keiter 302). In fact, even prior to the outbreak of the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park that consumes thousands of acres of forest, park authorities were allowing fires that were naturally started by lightning to burn uncontrolled in order to overcome the accumulated effects of 50 years of relentless fire suppression (Keiter 302). According to Keiter, "By the mid-1990s, the federal…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Keiter, Robert B. (2006, Spring). "The Law of Fire: Reshaping Public Land Policy in an Era of Ecology and Litigation." Environmental Law 36(2): 301-304.

"Smokey Bear has a fresh new look." (2014, August 11). CBS News. [online] available:

Vandlik, John M. (1995, May-June). "Voting for Smokey Bear: Political Accountability and the New Chief of the Forest Service." Public Administration Review 55(3): 284-288.

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