Wildfire cartoons

Managing wildfires and public lands can be a serious business, so it was a little surprising when we ran across these cartoons having forest fires as the theme. It is unusual to say the least to see wildfire issues depicted in a cartoonish style with bright, primary colors. But it is refreshing, and perhaps long overdue as a tactic to start a dialog and to attract the attention of readers who might not otherwise be engaged.

These two cartoons were drawn by Sam Wallace and are published with his generous permission. Mr. Wallace has a web site where you can see examples of his illustrations, some of which also appear at the Longmont, Colorado Times Call.

The cartoon above refers to the Fourmile fire that started on September 6 just west of Boulder that burned 6,181 acres and 169 structures. We covered the fire, but were unaware of any controversy over noise from the aircraft. There may have been some grumbling from Longmont (map), but no doubt the residents in the Boulder area were pleased to see the air tankers and helicopters working on the fire. (UPDATE: We checked with Mr. Wallace and he said that over the last few years there have been a lot of complaints about aircraft noise at the Longmont Vance Brand Municipal Airport, but the air tankers working the Fourmile fire did not use the airport. He said “Who in their right mind would complain about planes fighting fires.”)

The cartoon below of course refers to the issue of pine beetles, which have affected millions of acres in the western U.S. and Canada. This is another topic that we have covered extensively, most recently in an article in which we wrote, “forests that have been affected by mountain pine beetles are less likely to burn as intensely as green forests”. However, if you completely remove beetle-killed trees, the forest will burn less intensely than if the fuel was not removed. This is not practical across millions of acres, and it would interfere with natural processes, but should be considered in an urban-interface zone.

And, thank you, Sam Wallace, for the cartoons!

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.