Because it was important to save the forest for the animals. Environmentalists Destroyed California’s Forests. Or were we saving the forests for the timber industry?
Year after year, environmentalists litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns. Meanwhile, natural fires were suppressed and the forests became more and more overgrown. The excessive biomass competed for the same water, soil, and light a healthier forest would have used, rendering all of the trees and underbrush unhealthy. It wasn’t just excess biomass that accumulated, but dried out and dead biomass.
They torpedoed an agreement brokered by Feinstein in 2002. But the problem goes back a century or more. California Has Always Had Fires, Environmental Alarmism Makes Them Worse Than Necessary
US government scientists and journalists raised the alarm. In 1899 they claimed that forest fires resulted in “sterilization of the soil…for thirty years.”
The US Forest Service adopted a policy of fire suppression. President Teddy Roosevelt and his Forest Service chief, Gifford Pinchot, drummed up fears of timber scarcity in order to expand federal control over forests and to suppress fires.
Gee. Imagine a government interested in the increase in control. Too bad they didn’t know what they were doing.
Within half a century, scientists realized that fire suppression was a mistake. “By the 1960s when we realized it was a problem,” said Keeley. “Vast amount of fuels had accumulated for 50 or more years. The fires became far bigger than what could easily be handled.”
Historians agree. “But by putting out every fire,” noted Timothy Egan, who wrote a book on the Big Burn, “they created the greatest wildfires.”
At this point, the environmentalists are intransigent. There will be no change to the suppression of every fire, or the attempt, for a generation or more.