Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & Year of the Fires & r & by Stephen Pyne & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he story of the "Big Blowup," the huge August 1910 wildfire that burned three million acres in the Idaho Panhandle and western Montana is now well-known. And so is the saga of Wallace Forest Ranger Ed Pulaski, who saved 45 firefighters surrounded by flames and smoke by leading them into an old, abandoned mine tunnel, where they spent a harrowing night while the firestorm blew past them.





Arizona State University fire historian Stephen Pyne initially told those stories -- and those of other major wildfires that blackened the skies that year -- in his 2001 book Year of the Fires. Pyne's book -- recently reissued by Mountain Press Publishing Company -- is worth the read just for those. But readers who are also interested in the politics and history of U.S. fire suppression policies will also find gold here, for it shows how America's attitudes toward forests and fire have changed in 100 years.





In the days of Teddy Roosevelt, when the government was setting aside hundreds of thousands of forested acres for use by the public -- some of them our current national forests -- fire was seen as a menace. And it was everywhere, used as a tool to turn forests into farms and for other land uses. Millions of acres burned -- intentionally and unintentionally -- every year. Eventually, conservationists like Gifford Pinchot vowed to make aggressive fire suppression the federal policy. That led to the creation of the Forest Service, Smokey Bear and an all-out assault on forest fires.





But critics argue that policy also led to today's unnaturally crowded, diseased federal forests. Some believe the wildfires we hear about every summer and fall are so intense because of the buildup of fuels in the forests, fuels that used to be removed through low-intensity burns. The Forest Service has in the last few years reversed course and brought prescribed fire back into its toolbox. But that too has its problems. With people now living at the edges of those forests, the last thing they want is to breathe that smoke. Oh, and there are questions about how that burning contributes to climate change.





Stephen Pyne's book provides us with timely history and policy lessons.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • An Eye for Every Storm
  • An Eye for Every Storm

    After losing out to Idaho Falls, Coeur d'Alene gets its crisis center; now the city has to prove it works
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • 'Evil Intent'
  • 'Evil Intent'

    Monique Cotton resigns from Spokane's parks division; plus, Washington state lawmakers take up the issue of police violence
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • The Macy's Plan
  • The Macy's Plan

    Council President Ben Stuckart doesn't just want to sit back and let the market decide what happens to the Macy's building
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Treasure!

Treasure! @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 15

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Sacred Mt. Spokane

    Economic possibility is not a good enough reason to destroy the Spokane Tribe's holy land
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • White Men With Guns

    The illegal occupation in eastern Oregon is the epitome of white privilege
    • Jan 7, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

ELECTION 2016


Comment


Briefs


Marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Do Corporations Have Religious Rights?
  • Do Corporations Have Religious Rights?

    U.S. Sen. Patty Murray on the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act
    • Apr 2, 2014
  • Ridin' Randy out of town

    Something was wrong, and it wasn't just that these United States seemed unable to choose a president. It was election night, and if you were glued to the No. 1 local news station in Spokane, Q-6, you couldn't help but no
    • Feb 12, 2001

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation