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Brad Feld

What Todd said. Totally agree. There's going to be a lot of "I told you so" when Summit County has that massive fire.


I've spent some time hanging out with wildland firefighters and ecologists in SoCal arguing what to do about this problem. Here's some of what I learnt:
- We spent the last half of the 20th century suppressing fires, which increased the tree density
- That increased density left each tree competing for a limited water supply, leaving them weaker and prone to parasites, eg a plague of beetles

Careful logging definitely helps, but:
- Standard commercial practice leaves a lot of 'litter', branches, smaller trees, etc at ground level, which means big hot fires
- A lot of the back-country is inaccessible and hard to log, unlike ski areas with good roads
- It's a lot more straightforward and profitable to clear-cut than do more nuanced and scenic management
- Dead or diseased wood isn't all that profitable either

This makes it surprisingly tough to deal with the problem using commercial logging. It's definitely part of the solution, but unless we're willing to pay a hell of a lot of money* to clear all the sections that don't make commercial sense, we'll need managed fires too.

That's a pretty scary proposition, but like you both say the status quo is going to lead to some massive unmanaged fires.

This is a pretty emotional topic - I know Brad's been at the sharp end of a couple of fires and my closest call in LA was about 200 yards from our house, but there's some tough tradeoffs involved. It's not just a bunch of dirty hippies blocking the logging. :)

(*) I remember quotes of $10,000 an acre for selective logging, but I don't have a reference

todd vernon

Thanks for the detailed comments. I guess my proposal would be to aggressively cut out the dead wood in places with people, and places where the appearance is overwelmingly bad.

In my mind this can and probably should include clear cutting in areas. Again, it just trees.

I don't buy the argument that we can't afford it. When a huge section of Winter Park, Grand Lake and the Rocky Mountain Nation Forest literally explode in flames how much is that going to cost?


I'm on board with that proposal - aggressive intervention where there's structures and people. I also don't have a problem with clear-cutting sections.

I agree that the status quo is a false economy, but politically you're asking to increase spending on something that a lot of green people hate. That makes it a very hard sell that will need a big educational push.

I don't know of any pressure group with a vested interest in doing the sensible thing, if you find any practical ways of moving this forward I'd love to hear about it.

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