Scientists are saying decades of fire prevention in federal forests are leading to the worst forest fires we've ever seen. What is the forest fire prevention policy in your state or local community?
From the first installment of NPR's five-part series, "Mega Fires: The New Normal in the Southwest:"
"[W]hen the U.S. Forest Service was formed, its marching orders were 'no fires.'
"And it was the experts who approved the all-out ban on fires in the Southwest. They got it wrong.
"That's the view of fire historian Stephen Pyne.
" 'The irony here is that the argument for setting these areas aside as national forests and parks was, to a large extent, to protect them from fire,' Pyne says. 'Instead, over time they became the major habitat for free-burning fire.'
"So instead of a few dozen trees per acre, the Southwestern mountains of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are now choked with trees of all sizes, and grass and shrubs. Essentially, it's fuel.
"And now fires are burning bigger and hotter. They're not just damaging forests — they're wiping them out. Last year, more than 74,000 wildfires burned over 8.7 million acres in the U.S."
Check with federal, state and local officials responsible for forest, parks and preserves in your state or local community. Is there a strict no-burn policy? Do they conduct controlled burns - that is, deliberately set fires tightly controlled that are intended to burn away sections of forest in an effort to prevent fires that burn out of control.