Report: USFS won’t let forest ecologist talk about reforming fire management

Norbeck prescribed fire,
Alpine Hot Shots ignite the Norbeck prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. October 21, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
An article at Capital Public Radio claims that the U.S. Forest Service will not let a forest ecologist talk about an article he co-wrote titled “Reform Forest Fire Management”. The two-page opinion piece about making forests less prone to wildfire appeared in Science, and was written primarily by USFS and university employees.

Below is an excerpt from the article at Capital Public Radio about the controversy:


“The US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station won’t let forest ecologist Malcolm North talk about the study he authored in the journal Science.

The agency even unsuccesfully requested that Science editors hold the article or remove North’s name and affiliation from the peer-reviewed study.  The paper “Reform Forest Fire Management” says suppressing every fire in overgrown forests is not only expensive but dangerous and ill-advised.

Strong words perhaps, but UC Berkeley Fire Scientist Scott Stephens, who co-authored the paper, says they are not controversial.

“I read the paper many times,” says Stephens. “I just didn’t see something jump, like this would be something that would really cause great problems.”

The study considers ways to make forests less prone to wildfire, by thinning trees in overgrown forests, using controlled burns or allowing natural fires to burn under the right conditions.

US Forest Service policy actually supports those actions, but the authors point out such efforts rarely occur. In the decade ending in 2008, only 0.4 percent of ignitions were allowed to burn as managed wildfires…”

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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.

One thought on “Report: USFS won’t let forest ecologist talk about reforming fire management”

  1. well after the Yellowstone horror,i can imagine the USFS would be touchy about allowing “natural fires” to burn,but to suppress the writen word is wrong,were not a communist country,and even though the USFS is powerfull,i mean look at what they did to Aero Union,yes i know yall disagree with me,but im friends with Norm Cook,and he says he did everything required of him and did it legally,but that one man from USFS sent it back over and over until the FAA said it was too late,and shut them down.well ok grounded them,this action was one man in a powerfull position who did a criminal act and got away with it.


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