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Be careful what you wish for: The legacy of Smokey Bear

Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Brown, Thomas C. 2007. Be careful what you wish for: The legacy of Smokey Bear. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 5(2): 73-79.

A century of wildfire suppression in the United States has led to increased fuel loading and large-scale ecological change across some of the nation's forests. Land management agencies have responded by increasing the use of prescribed fire and thinning. However, given the continued emphasis on fire suppression, current levels of funding for such fuel management practices are unlikely to maintain the status quo, let alone reverse the effects of fire exclusion. We suggest an alternative approach to wildfire management, one that places less emphasis on suppression and instead encourages managers to balance short-term wildfire damages against the long-term consequences of fire exclusion. However, any major change in wildfire management, such as the one proposed here, will shift the costs and benefits of wildfire management, inevitably raising opposition.

Keywords: wildfire suppression, fuel loading, large-scale ecological change, wildfire management, fire exclusion

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Be careful what you wish for: The legacy of Smokey Bear
Electronic Publish Date: July 6, 2007
Last Update:
July 6, 2007

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