An old Indian trick

As wise stewards of the land, North America’s Indians routinely started forest fires. They wanted grazing grounds for the animals they hunted, and open spaces to live and hunt on. So before Columbus arrived there was a lot less forested land than we have today.

The Europeans put an end to the Indian fires, and for centuries harvested the forests for timber. But that has ended in many parts of the country, California in particular. After the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was rebuilt using lumber from the Santa Cruz forest, just south of the city. But I don’t believe it’s been harvested since.

It’s in flames right now, with 70,000 evacuated, including four members of my family, who are staying with Babbie and I. There are no fire breaks in this forest, so the fire is only 7% contained. The forecast calls for another dry lightning storm. The first one started these fires a few days ago.

If the Indians managed the land, the fires they started would have resulted in the fire breaks necessary to stop the spread of a forest fire. Or if this forest was managed according to the best practice, limited timber cutting would have been allowed, creating man-made fire breaks.

But because the state of California is governed by lunatics, it just burns.

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