Outflanking Fire with Common Sense 

Doug Robertson | Communities for Healthy Forests | June 9th, 2022

As the next fire season approaches, questions and concerns continue to pour in from the public demanding ways to avoid a repeat of the stifling smoke and destruction of our Federal Forest lands yet again in 2022.  

The question is, can we do anything about it? The answer is YES!  

Preparation for this fire season requires action now. Many policies governing the management of our Federal Forestlands were developed over a half-century ago. These outdated policies need to be reviewed, updated, and modernized to match the current conditions on the ground today. The authors of those policies did not anticipate that our climate would be warming, causing extended drought conditions that are putting our Federal Forests at elevated risk of catastrophic wildfire. 

Initial suppression is just one of the policies that need to be examined. Extinguishing a small fire quickly before it explodes into a devastating mega-fire is simply common sense. Communities for Healthy Forests understands that while every fire is not a candidate for quick suppression, many are.  

Let’s combine common sense with scientific data to strategically outmaneuver wildfire before it starts.  

Government agencies such as NOAA, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management have a rich database of information regarding predictable weather patterns, current ground conditions, vegetation types, and access points to name a few.  

Securing rotary and fixed-wing air assets combined with in-place contracts with firefighting companies that can respond quickly represents the kind of common sense policy decisions we want to see, and the public would applaud.  

Action now has the potential to reduce the number of large wildfires, the dangerous and harmful smoke, and the loss of life and property. The cost of implementing these measures before fire season begins pales in comparison to the expense of allowing small, controllable fires to grow into devastating wildfire again this fire season. 

Doug Robertson served as Commissioner of Douglas County, Oregon for 33 years, and as the President of O&C Counties for 25 years, stepping down in 2014. Since then, Doug has remained involved in advocating for common sense management of federal forests through organizations including Communities for Health Forests. Email Doug at robertsonjd44@outlook.com and watch for more commentary from CHF, or sign up to receive the CHF newsletter at www.communitiesforhealthyforests.com.