We have been preventing and fighting forest fires for a couple of hundred years believing it was the best way to preserve our forests and our way of life. We were wrong.
Left to themselves, naturally occurring forest fires were frequent, slow moving and limited. These fires cleared the weak, dead or dying trees. These fires burned the brush and vegetation from the forest floor, which supports destructive insects and has become the fuel of the major fires we know today. These fires diversified the environment, made the soil richer and forced the trees to develop thicker bark, which protected them from the heat. Many types of trees require the heat from these fires to release their seeds. New growth occurs most often within a couple of weeks as the vegetation thrives in the nutrient rich and uncompressed ash left from the fires and the lack of competition for sunlight.
Since we have protected our national forests, fires are less frequent. They are also much hotter – often consuming the old growth trees and moving too fast for the forest animals to escape. With enough firefighters and money, we can protect some special sections of the forest, but the moonscape left everywhere else takes much longer to grow back.
Mother nature, nor mother economy, will not be denied. No matter how many trees you plant, or how much stimulus fertilizer you provide, it is just going to take a while – that is, unless, there’s another fire.
Postscript: I was torn as to whether I should share this as it may have seemed that I was both uncharacteristically hopeful and suggest that I am anti-regulation or anti-stimulus. I am not. BTW, if there is another fire, it’s best to run like hell or jump in a lake with the other animals and the snakes.