[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[pct-l] beneficial fires

>> Who put the fires out before we showed up a few hundred years ago? <<

We, being man, showed up 12,000 to 20,000 years ago depending upon whose
migration pattern you choose to subscribe to. We, being white man, arrived
comparatively lately. 

In any case, prior to the management actives of us "white man", the western
landscape was a patchwork quilt of many small burn areas. They ranged from a
few acres to a few hundred acres. Early travelers to the west often use the
burns to ease their movements across the land. The burns provided easier
passageway and opportunity to find game and forage for the horses. Something
that continuous stretches of forests don't provide. 

The concept of standing on top of a mountain and looking out on a forest of
continuous green stretching out to the horizon, is a relatively recent
phenomena. It certainly isn't the West seen by Lewis and Clark.

Nature left undisturbed does a pretty good job of putting out fires. The
Yellowstone fires of a number of years ago demonstrate that. Despite all the
manpower and money spent fighting the fires, our efforts did little more
than save a few structures. The fires went out when the first snows of fall

As to microorganism and fire, I doubt that the little beasties have too much
to fear. Forest fires travel across the landscape rather quickly. Its heat
seldom traveling deeper than the first few millimeters of soil. Otherwise
the grasses and insects would take a long time to return. The burning of TP
would have no appreciable effects on the microorganism.  Our poop would add
far more microorganisms than the fire would kill. 

Campfires are different. There you're talking about repeated, high intensity
fires confined to one space. So you can expect a degree of serialization to
occur. However, it's hardly significant to the overall microorganism
population of an ecosystem. Plus it's extremely easy repair assuming the
right conditions are available, moisture and organic matter.  Simply mix
some rich organic soil with water on the burn and you'll find an extremely
fertile spot. More so than the surrounding area, because the burning
releases minerals trapped in the dead vegetation. 

The Park Service interest to preventing fires above 10,000 feet has nothing
to do with microorganisms. It does have to do with the renewably of the fuel
resource. There simply aren't enough trees to provide the fuel for the
number of fires people would like to burn. Down the valleys the trees
generate far more biomass than could ever be consumed by the number of
hikers passing through the area.

Ron "Fallingwater" Moak