I couldn’t help but find it particularly ironic that the day after the first rains my home state of Oregon had seen for months finally arrived, providing much-needed help to the valiant fire fighters working around the clock trying to extinguish the massive forest fires raging throughout the state, that a copy of Edward Struzik’s new “Firestorm” arrived on my desk from Island Press.
A social media message from the Oregon Department of Forestry about the coïncidence of the expected eclipse-viewing tourist deluge with the peak of the state’s wildfire season got me thinking about just how wildfires effect both ecosystems as well as economies. However a wildfire in central Oregon is not the same type of event as, say, a wildfire in Nebraska, or in southern California, for that matter.
Wildfires are peculiar phenomena in the American west. The bane of logging companies, they are also a necessity for the life cycle of many ecosystems. And despite how much damage they may do, in many instances they seem to be forgotten far more quickly than would seem reasonable.
My review of Timothy Egan’s latest book, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, is now available at The Well-read Naturalist.