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CASH Courier > 2005 Fall Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Fall 2006 Issue

FIRE MANAGEMENT: AN INCREASINGLY DESTRUCTIVE PRACTICE

Author’s Note

By Ron Baker

Mohonk Preserve, which is referred to in this article, is a 6,500 acre privately-owned Nature preserve in southeastern New York State. It is divided into two distinct parcels of land. The first is located between the villages of New Paltz and High Falls. It borders land owned by Mohonk Mountain House, a very expensive rural hotel that is a National Historical Landmark.

The second section of Mohonk Preserve is located in the Shawangunk Mountains about ten miles west of New Paltz , and is accessible from state route 44-55. It is adjacent to Minnewaska State Park. While the management of Mohonk Mountain House officially disclaims any connection with Mohonk Preserve, in some ways the management of the hotel and that of the preserve are interchangeable.

In the Autumn of 2005 the managers of the preserve initiated thedestructive practice of “controlled burning” on four to seven acre parcels of preserve lands. Their reasons, as is true on other natural lands where fire management is employed, are based upon faulty and misunderstood principles of ecology.

More severe burns on preserve plans had been planned for this Autumn. Two grass fires on cleared lands were conducted in mid-April. Fire management at Mohonk Preserve is a microcosm of the overall problem of prescribed fires (“controlled burning”), and it serves as a jumping-off point for explaining the biological and ecological destructiveness of fire management.

* * * * * * * * * *
“Let us give Nature a chance. She knows her business better than we do.”
--Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher

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