Since fire management is biologically and ecologically destructive then
why has it become increasingly advocated and practiced? There are two
important reasons for this. The first is quite simple. Fire is a
comparatively cheap and easy method of managing (or mismanaging) forests
and wildlife. This was why it was originally adopted by some federal and
state forest and wildlife managers, who did not want to spend the time,
effort, and money on alternative procedures, some of which would be
almost as destructive as fire.
The same principle applies at Mohonk Preserve. There are several
public and private “conservation” groups that support fire management on
these lands. These include the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission,
Open Space Institute, the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation, Student Conservation Association, and The Nature
Conservancy. It should be noted that these organizations are not ecology
communes dedicated to a respect and appreciation of the natural world.
In varying degrees they are all businesses, and businesses do not
generally operate according to a conservation principle or an ecology
principle (except where they are forced to do so in some ways by
Despite sometimes lofty goals, the owners of businesses operate
primarily according to the principle of profit and loss. The proponents
of fire management at Mohonk Preserve admit that fire may be a “cost
effective” method of achieving their dubious objectives. Regrettably,
our money economy seldom places ecological considerations first, or
humanitarian, or ethical, or moral considerations first.