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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

A FLASHBACK

A good friend of mine observed that some of the worst crimes are not legally considered crimes. One tragic example is the deliberate use of fire on natural lands. Fire management at Mohonk Preserve, in which I used to hold annual memberships, is particularly disturbing to me. It brings back very sad and painful memories. As a young boy exploring the dirt lanes of the undeveloped Pine Bush, between Albany and Schenectady, New York, 50 years ago, I was greatly saddened by the physical aftermath of the perennial fires in that area; the blackened bark of pitch pines, the dead scrub oaks, the general sense of lifelessness.

The vast majority of the fires in that area had been deliberately set by thrill-seeking teenaged boys. It had been that way for decades. Every time I saw smoke rising from the Pine Bush (usually in Spring during the time of rebirth) I experienced a black depression. While I could not articulate the reasons for these feelings at that tender age, I knew in my heart that the whole basis of these destructive fires was terribly, dreadfully wrong. This was youthful intuition, very accurate, but not wholly explainable. I loved nature and fire was a destructive force.

Today, after many years of closely studying Nature, I can explain very clearly why so-called fire management is unscientific, non-ecological, and very destructive biologically and ecologically. Pine barrens, which are usually burned on average once every five to ten years, are ecological aberrations. They are essentially sick ecosystems that became that way as a result of human interference by the use of fire. If these fires were to cease, then within 250 to 300 years a climax forest would replace the pine barrens. This would probably be a mixed deciduous-conifer forest consisting of large and tall trees. (1) In this type of ecosystem (even in the presence of very infrequent natural fires), there would be a wider variety of plant and animal life than presently exist there.

Go on to MAN A PART VERSUS MAN APART

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