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Missoulian mailbag

We have always had dry lighting storms in the West. Years ago we were managing our forests to break up the large areas of one type of age class and species type. This tended to reduce the large catastrophic fires we have today.

When the Northwestern region of the U.S. Forest Service sharply curtailed timber management because of the listing of the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act, it resulted in large, unbroken tracts of one type and age class.

I have spent my entire life as an outdoorsman, working 30 years with the Forest Service (17 as a district ranger on three districts), and my experience has shown me that good management and aggressive initial attack on fires will prevent most catastrophic fires. I have seen examples of where a fire burning in one type will enter another and go out without any kind of mechanical line.

Dale Harthan,


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