John Maclean writes commentary for Chicago Tribune

It has been 18 years since John N. Macelan wrote for the Chicago Tribune, but today he has an op-ed column in the newspaper. Naturally, Mr. Maclean, the author of several books about wildfire, wrote on that subject for the Tribune — wildland fire and the Granite Mountain Hotshot disaster.

Below is a very brief excerpt (you may have to register to view it):

Voices from the fire line tell us, again and again, “These are the most extreme fire conditions we’ve ever seen.” Out on the line, global warming is real. But the young love the physical labor and hardship, the discipline, the camaraderie, the incredible rush that comes from close contact with one of nature’s most powerful forces. It’s us older folks who fret.


Thanks go out to Kelly

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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.

4 thoughts on “John Maclean writes commentary for Chicago Tribune”

  1. This.

    “If the nation cannot bring itself to thin, log or burn overgrown and insect-infested forests — and that is too often the case — if fire budgets must go down; if staffing levels must be trimmed; then those who fight fires should be allowed to step back more often than in the past.”

    Thank you Mr. Maclean.

    1. I doubt that the Yarnell area has ever been commercially logged. Mule deer hunting for sure. With a good Monsoon year the mulies might even appear in greater numbers next season with fewer vegetation obstacles for flying bullets.

      Thinning of such an area would be absurd (maybe chaining?!). Had somebody in command, and conscious of the current and ensuing weather conditions, ordered Granite Mountain out of the way, and where out of the way was, I’m sure The Nineteen would have adhered to that. Maybe overhead did issue such an order but if so, obviously not in time. I think Granite Mountain did step back. But not in time.

      Yarnell and nearby Peeples Valley development was certainly in Mother Nature’s path. A mini urban/wildland interface. Who/what was there first? Had the fire been permitted to gain a head of steam and advance into the Prescott National Forest then some of that grand contiguous stand of Ponderosa pines on the Mogollon Rim already hard hit by the Rodeo-Chedeski and Wallow Fires might have been seriously impacted. And of course much of Arizona’s “I want to live in the mountains, not that f’ing hot desert” development between Prescott and along the I-17 corridor could have been at risk (urban/wildland interface?). Again, who/what was there first.

      Arizona’s rim country/southern reaches of the Colorado Plateau national forests have some pretty tolerant let burn policies by my reckoning. AZ and western New Mexico seem to have it together so much more than other states (their NF’s) when it comes to forest/wildfire management without the commercial chain saw. It’s just a very long row to hoe following Smokey’s footprints! Locally, commercial chain saws may boost an economy but I can’t see much influence on the Nation’s economy as a whole.


    2. Agreed- thank you for the truth Mr. MacLean.
      We in NE Oregon have similar Ponderosa
      forests …
      And conditions…

  2. Good article/commentary. I’m reading Maclean’s new book “The Esperanza Fire” now and it’s excellent. Highly recommended.


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