Prescribed Burns 2007

     I have too many meetings and too little time so I didn’t attend last week’s meeting the US Forest Service had about the Prescribed Burns they hope to accomplish yet this year.  While I’m happy for all of the rain we’re receiving I do hope it will dry up enough to allow the USFS to do their burns in the mid-trail area.

     From what I heard there were a few people who weren’t excited about the proposed burn plan.  Wow.  After seeing how the prescribed burns saved us during the Cavity Lake Fire I can’t imagine someone being opposed to a burn that could save their home or cabin.  To me it seems almost as silly as not installing a wildfire sprinkler.  If a person takes the time to look at the Cavity Lake Fire and how it was stopped by the prescribed burns then there shouldn’t be a question in one’s mind.  I suppose a Devil’s Advocate could say the burns didn’t do their job during the Ham Lake Fire but wind blew that fire straight up the corridor where nothing short of a miracle was going to have a chance to slow it down let alone stop it.

     Prescribed burns on the Gunflint Trail have proven effective time after time.  There is so much dead and down timber in the mid-trail area from the 1999 blowdown that still needs to be treated.  Mid-trail is way more populated than the end of the Gunflint Trail and numerous cabins dot the lakeshores of Poplar, Hungry Jack, Clearwater and Bearskin.  I’ve driven down those roads in a car before and I would hate to imagine driving the fire truck down those long, narrow, winding roads trying to evacuate homeowners with traffic coming at me.  It could be a scenario for a disaster.

     When the USFS conducts prescribed burns they are done in a controlled fashion.  When nature takes over as it did during the Ham Lake Fire the fire burns hot, fast and as it pleases.   Fire personnel couldn’t do a thing to stop the spread of the Ham Lake Fire because there weren’t resources in place.  During a prescribed burn resources are in place and the USFS plans include numerous steps to ensure public safety.  The planning of fuel treatments isn’t just a roll of the dice as to where to put the boundaries; it takes careful planning to make fire lines that will hold.  After all of the planning and preparation that goes into a burn plan it still may not be completed if all of the weather conditions aren’t favorable. 

     Do I want to see the Caribou Rock Trail look like a moonscape because of a prescribed burn?  Do I want the shoreline of Poplar Lake to look like the north side of Gunflint Lake?  No, absolutely not.  After seeing areas that have been treated with prescribed burns I don’t think these areas will look bad at all.  Even if the areas look a little rough for a few years it would be worth it if no lives are lost or cabins are burned to the ground by an uncontrollable forest fire that could have been prevented by a prescribed burn..