Cultural Fire And High Country News

The idea that frequent low-severity blazes as practiced by Native American removes litter but does not kill trees and thus can preclude large blazes is widely promoted by media, the Forest Service and others. Photo George Wuerthner 

The idea that frequent low severity blazes as was practiced by some tribal people can reduce large conflagrations is widely promoted by the media, timber industry, tribal people, and social justice groups.

A recent example is the article “Cultural fire is good fire, and California needs more of it“. In the commentary, an HCN intern interviews Teresa Romera, an advocate of cultural burning and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

The article follows the well-established media formula that Indians knew how to “manage” the landscape for the benefit of Nature (sorry Nature, you don’t know what is good for you). And when Euro-Americans arrived, they stopped Indian cultural burns, and now we are suffering large fires.

The article is full of misinformation and inaccurate assumptions.

For instance, the interview starts out with the question, “What are fire’s good qualities?”

“Thinning” project on the Boulder River, Custer Gallatin National Forest, Montana has removed large old growth trees. Photo George Wuerthner 

Romero answers that it creates resiliency, and you won’t have severe fire events if you burn frequently. Romero uses pejorative words like “devastation” and “terrible fires” to describe the “bad” fires.

There are several problems with this perspective. The article characterizes high-severity fires as “terrible fires” that must be reduced or eliminated. High-severity blazes are the norm for many plant communities, including aspen, spruce-fir, lodgepole pine, juniper-pinyon, and chaparral.

Spruce-fir forest typically burn under extreme fire weather conditions. Photo George Wuerthner

Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated that climate/weather drives large blazes, particularly in higher-elevation plant communities like lodgepole pine or spruce-fir forests. When you have the right conditions, including drought, high temperatures, low humidity, and high winds, wildfires will toss embers around and over any cultural burn.

Another problem with the idea that cultural burning is a panacea to counter large blazes is that such wildfires typically affect a small portion of the landscape. Evidence for Indian burning is localized.

Sagebrush has no adaptations to frequent fire. If burned too often, the sagebrush disappears. The presence of millions of acres of sagebrush, not to mention sage obligate species like sage sparrow, sage grouse, and sage thrasher is evolutionary evidence that Native burning did not influence large landscape scale. Photo George Wuerthner 

We have evolutionary evidence for this. For instance, sagebrush steppe burns at intervals of 50-400 years, depending on the sagebrush species. Sagebrush has no particular adaptation to wildfire, and disappears if fires are too frequent. If Indians were burning the land as much as advocates suggest, there would be no significant amount of sagebrush and hence, no sage grouse, sage sparrow, or pygmy rabbit, among other species.

The snag forests created by high severity fires is critical habitat for numerous species of plants and wildlife. Photo George Wuerthner 

Other evolutionary evidence for high-severity fires includes the ecological importance of snag forests, which create wildlife habitat for more species than low-severity blazes. For instance, we find greater numbers of flower species, mushroom species, bees and butterflies, bat species, birds, and even more fish in areas influenced by high-severity fires. This is evolutionary evidence for the prior existence of high-severity burns on the landscape, notwithstanding Indian burning.

Snags from the 1910 Big Burn which charred 3-3.5 million acres of Idaho and Montana long before anyone can suggest that fire suppression or lack of Indian burning led to fuel buildups. The 1910 Burn, like all large blazes, resulted from drought, high temperatures, low humidity and high winds. Photo George Wuerthner 

The message it sends is that the way to preclude large fires is to have more cultural burning. But this ignores that some of our most extensive fires, like the 1910 burn, occurred long before fire suppression or any significant fire prevention efforts.

As Barrett et al. 2005 noted: “For many years, the importance of fire use by American Indians in altering North American ecosystems was underappreciated or ignored. Now, there seems to be an opposite trend… It is common now to read or hear statements to the effect that American Indians fired landscapes everywhere and all the time, so there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ ecosystem.”

Barrett goes on to note “A myth of human manipulation everywhere in pre-Columbus America is replacing the equally erroneous myth of a totally pristine wilderness.”

“We believe that it is time to deflate the rapidly spreading myth that American Indians altered all landscapes using fire. In short, we believe that the case for landscape-level fire use by American Indians has been dramatically overstated and over-extrapolated.”

In pre-Euro American days, the fertile Willamette Valley of Oregon likely had one of the highest populations of Native Americans in what is now the United States. If Indian burning were a major evolutionary force, the Willamette Valley would be where you should find plenty of evidence. Yet, fire researcher Cathy Whitlock notes: “The idea that Native Americans burned from one end of the valley to the other is not supported by our data … Most fires seem to have been fairly localized, and broad changes in fire activity seem to track large-scale variations in climate” (Fire Science 2010).

In a charcoal study of Washington’s Battle Ground Lake, Megan Walsh (Walsh et al. 2008) concluded that fire frequency was highest during the middle Holocene when oak savanna and prairie were widespread near Battle Ground Lake. She suggests: “The vegetation and fire conditions were most likely the result of warmer and drier conditions compared with the present, not from human use of fire” (Fire Science 2010)

Mount Ashland seen from Cascades Siskiyou National Monument. Research demonstrates that large wildfires are normal and natural in this sub-region. Photo George Wuerthner 

Colombaroil and Gavin (2002) documented that large fires always occurred in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon, primarily due to climate/weather, even during the pre-European period. “Fire is a primary mode of natural disturbance in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Increased fuel loads following fire suppression and the occurrence of several large and severe fires have led to the perception that in many areas there is a greatly increased risk of high-severity fire compared with presettlement forests. To reconstruct the variability of the fire regime in the Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon, we analyzed a 10-m, 2,000-y sediment core for charcoal, pollen, and sedimentological data. The record reveals a highly episodic pattern of fire in which 77% of the 68 charcoal peaks were before Euro-Ame these accounts most often described forest conditions as “dark,” “dense,” or “thick,” rather than “open” or “park like.”

Perhaps the best description by a forty-niner was by J. Goldsborough Bruff, who traveled the western slopes of the Feather River drainage between 1849 and 1851. He kept a detailed diary and clearly distinguished between open and dense forest conditions. He recorded the latter six times more often than the former.

One thread common to most accounts was awe at the immensity and grandeur of the trees in the forest, especially the sugar pines. Accounts by the first explorers of the upper slopes of the central Sierra and southern Sierra reported more open forests than in the north, but brush and smaller trees were often found under the large trees. John Muir described open forests of ponderosa pine but also found brush and small trees to be an integral part of most of the central and southern Sierra forests he traversed in the period 1869-1875.

The Yosemite Valley was occupied by large native communities, but outside of the valley, the evidence suggests climate, not humans, were the major influence on forest communities. Photo George Wuerthner 

In yet another study, Vachula et al. (2019) reviewed the fire history of what is now Yosemite National Park where, historically, large Indigenous communities resided. Their research found a direct correlation between climate and the amount of burning on the landscape.

“We analyzed charcoal preserved in lake sediments from Yosemite National Park and spanning the last 1400 years to reconstruct local and regional area burned. Warm and dry climates promoted burning at both local and regional scales…

The regional area burned peaked during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and declined during the last millennium, as climate became cooler and wetter and Native American burning declined.”

Our record indicates that (1) climate changes influenced burning at all spatial scales, (2) Native American influences appear to have been limited to local scales, but (3) high Miwok populations resulted in fire even during periods of climate conditions unfavorable to fires. However, at the regional scale (< 150 km from the lake), fire was generally controlled by the top-down influence of climate.” (Vachula et al. 2019) Geographer, Thomas Vale came to similar conclusions (Vale, 2002).

Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau formulated many of his ideas about self sufficiency and nature.  Even in New England natural processes were the major influence on forest communities. Photo George Wuerthner 

These findings are not limited to the West. David Foster, who has studied historic land use in New England, came to a similar conclusion: “Our study contradicts the theory that people had significant ecological impacts in southern New England before European arrival. Instead, it reveals that old forests, shaped by climate change and natural processes, prevailed across the region for thousands of years.”

Beyond the fact that cultural burning was an insignificant influence from a landscape perspective, the primary justification for cultural burning is human-centric, not biocentric. It is all about “me”. I.e., we burn so “we” have more acorns or berries. It’s not about what is good for the ecosystem.

Once again, I challenge these cultural fire advocates to show me where such fires precluded significant fires when climate/weather lined up for a high-severity fire. The fact is that under high winds, embers will blow over and around any cultural burn.

Given this evidence, why do we hear so frequently the assertion that Indians are “caretakers” of the land and that without Indian burning, our forests were and are somehow “unhealthy.”

Since Paleo Indians only colonized North America at most 15,000-18,000 years ago, depending on whose study you accept (slightly older dates are more contested), all the major plant communities on the continent existed for millions of years without any human influences.

Ponderosa pine has existed as a separate species for 55 milllion years. Yet, we are told without Indian burning such forests are “unhealthy.” Photo George Wuerthner 

One has to wonder how Nature survived all these years before Indians showed up to “fix” the landscape, which, given the rhetoric today humans fixing “unhealthy” forests, must have been screwed up.

All this does is continue to sell the idea that all fires were low severity when Indians were so wise and managed the land. And that the only good fire is a low-severity fire.

I don’t care if there is cultural burning. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. But the message being sent is what I object to. It suggests that Nature can’t survive without human management. I reject such ideas.

Anthropocene boosters frequently use Indian burning as evidence to support their contentions that there is no such thing as wildlands or any part of the planet that wasn’t under human control. However, such pronouncements fail to consider the variability in human influence on both temporal and spatial scales. Nature doesn’t need human manipulation to exist. Cultural burning and logging/thinning to improve the “health” and “resilience” of forest ecosystems is human arrogance.


  1. Makuye Avatar

    Long-legged moose, stotting deer like blacktail and mule deer were adapted by evolution to forests without removal of understory.
    The arrogance of humans, including indians who are all from siberia, is astounding. The first time the southern plains bison were endangered was folowing the establishment of lower Mississippi vallet trading towns, where indians killed off the Brazos plains herds. Only smallpox prevented their extinction in the late 1700s.
    There’s so much more concerning both indian and gun rubber ignorance, that i tired of explaining the recorded history years ago. George has so much more tolerance for humans thani could ever muster.
    And i grew up among tribes that pretended to revere Animals, but killed them for ornament.
    Ritual, in fact, is distorted from the few who for a few years, experienced empathy for the dying life, the relaxing pupils of the dead, who are gone, becoming bacteria food, carrion,something else for their while.
    Only mortality breeds kindness. All else human are lies.

  2. Mary Avatar

    Agreed. And many forget– or just don’t notice– that there are so many more people now than a few thousand years ago: we now have an outsized, overwhelming influence on wild lands.

  3. Ralph Duane Short Avatar
    Ralph Duane Short

    Thank you, George.

    I’ve been making this argument for decades. My arguments arise from my collective understanding of evolutionary biology and fire science (beginning with the fundamental physics of fire).

    You have expertly assimilated the book, chapter, and verse approach to debunking the “must prescribe fire” myth and eloquently exposed the fallacy of logic used to perpetuate it.

    Absent a clear and comprehensive understanding of the physics of fire and its impacts on the evolutionary processes involved in the physical and biological responses to wildfire, the mythology of the miracle of prescribed fire is believable.

    In scientific terms, whether, when, where, why, and how indigenous people used fire is irrelevant. Science is independent of historic fickle human behaviors.

    Science integrity aside, I have long noted that the same European settlers who inhumanely referred to this land’s indigenous people as barbaric savages now laud them as brilliant ecologists. The assumption is that the indigenous people knew more about nature than the science-based scientists who succeeded them.

    History proves that neither indigenous peoples nor the scientists that immediately followed knew what they were doing regarding nature manipulation. All the indigenous knew then, and the scientists know now, is that their interventions “sometimes” give them the results they seek in the here and now.

    Remember, Smokey? He’s still hanging around. Fire Bad! Fire Good!

    Fickle and convoluted politics of history has no place in the arena of proven and emergent sound science. We are still learning, are we not?

    The best available sciences collectively confirm that nature appropriately responds to natural events. Humans design nature interventions based on a limited understanding of nature’s processes. To argue otherwise is to promote human complacency and arrogance.

    A forest, sage steppe, prairie, or grassland consists of millions of components ranging from megafauna to molecules. At best, humans can account for a handful of these components regarding a given nature manipulation project or program.

    Out of millions of components, quadrillions of combinations of natural real-time and evolutionary processes occur every moment of every day. Four numbers can produce

    When humans intervene in these processes, we focus on the handful of outcomes we “desire.” When we see the “eye-appealing” results we desire, we clap our hands and call it good.

    Yet, we have disturbed quadrillions of combinations of natural interactions, ranging from those we can readily observe to nano-processes that we have not begun to understand.

    Our desired conditions and outcomes do not miraculously square with nature’s processes. Even if we could see every alteration our actions cause, we could only see the real-time and short-term consequences.

    Although the forces that drive biological evolution occur in nanoseconds (yes, nanoseconds), many hundreds of human generations must pass before the incremental changes are observable.

    Humanity is “entranced” by its technological accomplishments (Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry). With that sense of pride comes arrogance.

    Human intelligence has a long way to go before it can measure the immeasurable and see beyond the second, literally.

    Until then, we should allow our wisdom to restrain our “do because we can attitude” toward nature.

    Lightning still strikes. Falling rocks still spark wildfires. Until lightning ceases and rocks no longer fall, the fire we add to our forest, sagebrush, prairie, grassland, or any ecosystem is additive in nature, not an act of mimicking nature.

    Today’s forests and planet Earth began shaping themselves billions of years (yes, billions) before Homo sapiens, and later Homo sapiens sapiens came along to start mucking them up.

    In the contexts of geological and biological evolution, I suggest that because our indigenous people used fire to control nature some 11 seconds ago, we should not conclude we must do so some 10 seconds later.

    The child should never lecture the elder.

    In our context, the elder is nature. The child is humanity.

    1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      Generally agree, though no opinion on the science because I don’t know it.

      Some of us lean more toward a spiritual — not religious — view of life and the universe than a scientific one, as in the Tao of Physics (Fritjof Capra). But if your science or spirituality is correct, it will reach the same conclusions.

      The big question raised by your comments is WHY humans act this way or even want to act this way. It’s clear to me that the reason is that humans failed to evolve, or evolved incorrectly, mentally and spiritually. Humans went off the rails at least as long as 10-12,000 years ago when we started using agriculture, and maybe even long before that when we started leaving Africa and caused extinctions wherever we went. Instead of fulfilling our proper role on this planet by expanding our consciousness, humans obsess on harmfully, and destructively manipulating the physical/natural world for their own self-centered, egotistic, and unevolved reasons. This is what has to change, or else nothing else will change for the better. More detail here:

  4. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
    Jerry Thiessen

    Modern humans, Homo sapiens, have been around for 2-300,000 years, a very small slice of time in the scheme of things. During its reign, it has never done anything to benefit global ecosystems.It is extractive and selfish at its core. Whatever it does, it does to benefit itself, and frequently to the detriment of other species and the ecosystem. The first native Americans were no different. They burned when and where they could so long as it was beneficial to them and economical, but they did not waste precious resources of time and effort to try to burn landscapes too wet or too dry to gain practical benefits. This is not rocket science.
    Now, we complain about forest fires, not so much because they are unnatural but because they cause economic stress and human loss. That’s it! The concern is really not about the ecosystem or how best to manage trees, It never has been. It’s about our selfish ego and our know-it-all attitude that we should fix it to benefit us. We need to get over ourselves. But alas, that is very unlikely. We can’t even come to grips with global warming, a universal threat to ourselves and myriad other species.

  5. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
    Jeff Hoffman

    As the saying goes, ask the wrong question and you get the wrong answer. The natural environment does NOT need to be managed, whether by Natives, colonizers, or others. All humans can do to the natural world and the life there, with the LONE exception of trying to restore habitats, ecosystems, and native life where humans have harmed or destroyed them, is create more harm. The best thing that humans can do to the natural world is LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

    This fetishization of Natives or indigenous people is really disgusting. I’m a strong supporter of TRADITIONAL Natives, so long as they don’t harm the natural world. But these are just other humans, not some superhumans or gods. Sure, the Americas were an ecological paradise when the colonizers got here, but some of the Natives had started using agriculture and overpopulating too, so not all of the land was in great condition. Support the American Indian Movement, support the International Indian Treaty Council, advocate for the release of Leonard Peltier, etc. But please stop fetishizing Natives.

  6. John Carter Avatar
    John Carter

    I always think about building fires in the west during July and August for cooking, and campfires in general. A study in northern Utah showed that once the sheep herds came into the Bear River Range, fire frequency increased from escaped campfires. But, today we like to make myths out of things. Do you suppose the sheep herders were engaging in their version of “cultural burning”? I am still waiting for TEK to be proven based on evidence and data.

  7. Wayne Tyson Avatar
    Wayne Tyson

    Burned up? Follow the money!

    I used (late fifties and early sixties) to count trees for the US Farce Service until there was a fire. I had the dubious duty to count what was left after some virgin forest in Northern California was clear-cut. I went back 25 years later. Still no reproduction to speak of, but the slash was still there.

    It burned last year.

    1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      In Earth First! in the 1980s, we used to say, “burn it down before they cut it down!” Natural wildfires don’t cause harm in the big picture, but killing trees (aka logging) causes great harm. Totally unnatural, totally immoral, very harmful and destructive.

  8. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
    Jerry Thiessen

    What is the difference between a natural fire and an unnatural fire?

    1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
      Wayne Tyson

      Good question!

      Frequency of ignition?


      More combustible fuels, and more firebrands (that are longer-lasting and fly farther)?

      Altered (for the worse) packing ratios?

      (All off the top of my head at the moment.)

    2. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Humans involved. Carelessness with campfires, deliberate arson and prescribed burns to benefit human needs.

    3. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
      Jeff Hoffman

      Natural wildfires are not started by humans. The vast majority are started by lightning.

  9. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I should add “carelessness with campfires or deliberately ignoring the rules for places where no campfires are allowed or not taking care during drought conditions, vandals, unnatural accelerants that are toxic to the soil, I don’t know what is used by the Forest Service.

    Natural fires are started by lightning, the heat of the sun, and that is all, I believe?

    1. Jerry thiessen Avatar
      Jerry thiessen

      Natural vs. unnatural fires. The question is: Does the forest, steppe or prarie know the difference? Or, does the ignition source somehow have negative ecological implications? What about paleo indian campfires that escaped 20,000 years ago? Or, fires set intentionally by native Americans to promote grasslands over shrubs and small trees?
      In a recent post, Hoffman implied that at one point he thought that burning the forest before it could be cut was preferred. Unnatural or natural?
      Maybe we should think of unnatural fires as those that burn unnatural things. The devastation of cheatgrass fires in the west, for example, or fires that burn down cities like the recent one in Hawaii. That one, by the way, had both alien weeds and human structures as the problem. That one was “unnatural” by my definition.

      1. Jeff Hoffman Avatar
        Jeff Hoffman

        The problem with human-caused fires is that they add to the natural wildfires that already take place, putting the ecosystem’s fire regime out-of-balance (i.e., too much fire). Keep in mind that these ecosystems didn’t evolve with humans, who’ve only been here for 25-30,000 years.

        Burning to prevent logging is a desperation measure, not something we ever seriously advocated. Our point was that logging is so destructive that it would be much less destructive if the forest were to burn.

        1. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
          Jerry Thiessen

          Some say we as humans have put out too many forest fires. Which is it, too many or too few?

          1. Ida Lupine Avatar
            Ida Lupine

            I’m no expert (of course), but just as an observer, it seems we are interfering with the natural fires, they don’t get a chance to do what nature intended because they’re a danger to us, or interfere with our activities. Just like the wildlife too.

            But the unnatural, blundering fires caused by humans are statistically more prevalent, I think? I think that more needs to be done to enforce fire laws, close the Parks during bad drought conditions (I don’t know why they don’t do this, is it because of lack of funding?) It’s not a 100% guarantee of course, but it’s better than just giving people free reign.

            Oh how well I am aware that the ecosystem’s natural fire regimes predate us by thousands of years. In one (or more!) of George’s articles there are articles being written where it is being promoted that the forests have adapted to human prescribed burns! facepalm

      2. Wayne Tyson Avatar
        Wayne Tyson

        Good thought! Cheatgrass and other annual plants alien to a regional ecosystem disrupt it in many ways (e.g., loss of diverse soil microbiomes)increase ignition potential (i.e., combustible vegetation <0.5 inches in diameter and dry debris perhaps somewhat larger)and burn quickly, creating their own convection and radiation, both of which fail to ignite heavier materials unless (and they do) become airborne burning firebrands/embers.

        Cheatgrass areas used to be called “cow-burnt”. Try some exclusion plots planted to smaller ones of indigenous (e.g., perennial native grasses and forbs or other adapted vegetation within), and watch them spread–until the cows “burn” them out again. George probably knows about this, or an even better alternative, but the point is to produce a proof-of-concept demonstration area first, then add more plots as feasible and necessary.

        Above all, use John Ewel’s criteria

        There are a lot of folks that believe that all alien species are better-adapted to a region than the indigenous ones. There are some exceptions, but most annual weeds will be suppressed to irrelevance when the factors favorable to them are removed or replaced.

        1. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
          Jerry Thiessen

          The cheatgrass problem is well understood. Cheatgrass begets fire and fire begets cheatgrass. Cheatgrass ranges are hundreds of times more likely to burn than native bunchgrass rages. If we could extend the fire interval of cheatgrass ranges to decades rather than a just a few years, your idea of prep, planting and patience may have some chance, but so far that is just a dream. And, climate change is favoring more cheatgrass, not less.
          I hold out little hope that the BLM will make any headway with the cheatgrass/fire cycle and returning our public lands to productive wildlife habitat for native species.
          The first thing we need to do is get rid of domestic livestock on public lands.

          1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
            Wayne Tyson

            I tend to agree, except that “your idea of prep, planting and patience” is your idea, not mine.

            1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
              Wayne Tyson

              “The cheatgrass problem is well understood.”

              Do you have a reference to cite that summarized that understand best? Is there any chance at all that some aspects of the cheatgrass phenomenon might be misunderstood?

              1. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
                Jerry Thiessen

                The list of research papers, books, workshops, theses, range courses, experiments etc. is practically endless. George was involved with cheatgrass problems 35 years ago. I could cite a few, but a look at the web under cheatgrass on “Google Scholar” will turn up myriad publications. Good luck.

            2. Jerry Thiessen Avatar
              Jerry Thiessen

              Sorry, I may have misunderstood or misinterpreted your basic idea of rehabing our native ranges. Our ecosystem is full of alien plants and animals that outcompete native species in one way or another. Very few have either been eliminated or are beneficial without some negative side effects.

              1. Wayne Tyson Avatar
                Wayne Tyson

                I’m admittedly a new kid on the cheatgrass block, but I have worked with other alien annual grasses in the genus Bromus. I have noted that some species of hemiparasites, for example, can thoroughly wipe out species like Bromus mollis and B. diandrus. Whether or not they constitute surrogates for cheatgrass is another matter, but has that sort of thing been investigated?

                Context, of course, is everything, and there seems to be endless variation. I (Land Restoration Associates) was given the task many years ago of working out a practical and cost-effective approach to the restoration of grassland and savanna ecosystems. The suitability of site conditions, for example, can be a crucial factor, as can feasible modifications thereto, if any. We noted in running a barnyard transect across a large acreage that appeared to consist of nothing but alien weedy species and found, to our surprise, colonies of native rhizomatous- and bunch-grasses with some colonies of the former having developed to quite large “pure” stands; the latter in smaller but expanding stands, “crowding out” the weedy species. We almost always adhered strictly to Ewel’s Criteria for ecosystem restoration–no maintenance, no plant replacement, no irrigation, few if any external inputs, and, of course, resistance to invasion. I am suggesting that a demonstration project be initiated at low cost and expanded according to valid evidence of performance.

                And here I promised myself that I wouldn’t lead y’all off into the weeds, so I’ll stop here.

                We found that

      3. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        Absolutely horrible, the Maui fires. Very sad, and seemingly preventable. Yes, very unnatural fire, I think too – and there did not seem to be a good plan of action in place from the beginning.

        There was a tree that managed to survive, so I hope it is still recovering.


George Wuerthner is an ecologist and writer who has published 38 books on various topics related to environmental and natural history. He has visited over 400 designated wilderness areas and over 200 national park units.

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George Wuerthner