Friday, December 30, 2016

Forests and New England History

In his book "1491", Charles Mann puts an idea in prime time. He thinks that aboriginal Americans, prior to 1492, would create small "burns" in the forest, to control understory growth. Grandpa was a part of the first wave of people involved in forest control. Dad continued that tradition, and his generation saw a veritable shutdown of wildfires - the "Smokey the Bear" effort. Which, in retrospect, was remarkably successful.

I look around me today, at all the understory trash in our woods in Massachusetts (but you could go anywhere in the US - it is the same). If a fire got started here, there is enough tinder that a wildfire could be a monster. Fortunately, in the eastern US, there is enough moisture that wildfires are exceptional and rare. 

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