It is not even August, but the wildfire season is already in full bloom, and close again, with homes devoured along the Colockum, and the huge Klickitat blaze still burning.
It was just last year that we sat choking for weeks from the fires just west of Wenatchee.
Our fires seem to be bigger now.
Fighting fire used to take far fewer resources that it does today. In 1991 firefighting took “up to 13 percent” of the U.S. Forest Service budget, a story in the current Christian Science Monitor weekly notes. It says that last year the budget figure was 40 percent!
Locally there has been a steady thinning of trees by the Forest Service, but the acreage is puny compared to the total. And controlled burning is so small as to be almost insignificant. Why?
Because our clean-air laws, both state and federal, have kept controlled burning to a minimum to stay within their overly rigid guidelines. We get all kinds of pollutants in a wildfire, but we just have not waked up to the need for looser standards to allow controlled burning.
Maybe someday …