Wake Up And Smell the Smoke: http://www.lensjoy.com/Blog/EagleCreekFire.htm
The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire teaches lessons in fire policy and involving the public in crafting it.
The premise of the article is that the public has been left out of fire management policy discussions, at our own peril. The result we now have is a destroyed trail system that could take years to rebuild, and businesses that will be hurt or will close due to reduced visitation. While we can't go back to the past, there are a number of things we should debate that going forward, could reduce the risk of future fires and make the recovery process better.
The questions raised are:
- Why wasn't containment reached in the initial attack period?
What must change so similar fires can be put out?
With this risk and fire history well known, why was the public allowed in the area?
Should we consider a total fireworks ban in Oregon and Washington?
Should there be stiffer penalties for arson and other fire-related crimes, clearly posted at all recreation sites?
Why didn't we use supertankers, jumbo jets that can dump almost 20,000 gallons of water or retardant on a fire?
What should the hiking and recreation community do to reduce the chances of us causing wildfire?
I've shared this article and more detailed discussions on the questions raised in it and possible solutions with the press and with some recreation groups. The response has been overwhelmingly quiet. No one wants to go near this issue. I am curious what people in the hiking community have to say. Please post comments here, and if you're so inclined, let your elected officials know we need a public debate about our region's fire management plan. The next time, there could be deaths, we could lose the Washington side of the gorge, and even lose the Bull Run Watershed unless we make changes to reduce fire risk and have the right equipment to fight a fire ready to go if those safeguards fail.
I suspect the silence is partly because the recreation community has fought hard to keep industrial development and fossil-fuel transport out of the gorge, then a catastrophic fire was caused by ...a hiker. No one wants to admit that recreation can cause significant environmental harm. "Nothing to see here, just move on please."
The points raised above are only the start of a discussion, and I am not personally for or against any particular one. What I'm hoping is we can have a fruitful discussion of the issue here to contribute to some kind of future public statement from the hiking community about how our fire management plan should work. It may not get a public review unless people speak up. This is one way we can start that process.
Thanks for your time and interest.