The answer to this problem isn't to stop suppressing fires, as some environmentalists suggest. Even if we were willing to risk lives and property by taking the "let it burn" approach — and rational people are not — the fuel load today is so great that this would produce catastrophic fires, fires so intense that they would cook the soil and destroy whole ecosystems.
The answer is to reduce the fuel load through thinning of trees followed by forest management using prescribed burns, logging and other measures that could restore forests to their historic states.
This wouldn't just save and create jobs, as President Obama says he wants to do. It would also save and create healthy forests.
David A. Ridenour is president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank.
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