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May 14, 2007

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Chandler Howell

As I recall from reading Collapse, in the Montana anecdotes that Diamond relates, the problem is a combination of issues.

First, the fire fighting policies that began in the early 20th century contributed to the build-up of dead trees and damaged the naturally fire-limiting multi-level ecosystem of old growth forests.

Then, the timber companies hired in the 1960's and after to clear the underbrush acted in Bad Faith and illegally harvested old growth hardwood to improve profitability of the contracts.

Finally, the cost is now seen as too great (thousands of dollars an acre) to perform the clearing work at all.

jsqrisk

My brief comment about how southeastern pine forests and swamps are different from western and northern ecosystems, yet the underlying problems are similar, got to main posting length, so I'll follow up with a post on the subject.

One of the key points is that to clear underbrush in southeastern pine forests, fire is the usual method, with which the forests evolved. But not the kind of fires we're seeing this year.

-jsq

jim

On statistics...

News sources didn't quite have an idea about how important it would be to cover this story and didn't always double check that information.

I found during my research that many different sources were claiming different historical precedents and loss of acreage.

The best source has been www.wjhnews.com. They are in Waycross,GA and seem to cover it well.

jsqrisk

Hi Jim,

I see in your blog you also used firstcoastnews.com out of Brunswick, Ga. Oh, my: they closed down I-95 near Jacksonville Sunday. That's three interstates (I-10, I-75, and I-95) closed because of these fires. Yet I was talking to someone in New York State this morning who said "what wildfires"?

Yes, finding dependable wildfire precedents seems to be difficult. I'm guessing the 55,000 acres in 1955 you mentioned was probably in comparison to the Sweat Farm Road fire SW of Waycross?

It's hard to do risk management when you don't know what's happened before, because then you have no idea what sort of future risks to look out for.

-jsq

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