Fighting Fire with Fire: Prescribed Burns

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Prescribed burns work, but they aren't popular.

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Land management agencies all over the state called on Utahns to remember: sometimes fire is a good thing. 

Jason Curry is with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and said prescribed burns work, but they’re hard to sell.

Curry explained, “‘All fires are bad,’ that’s a sentiment that’s over 100 years old, it’s outdated, and it needs to change. Prescribed fire and managing prescribed fire is a whole lot less costly than fighting wildfire.”

He explained that many in the state are opposed to prescribed burns because of air pollution, respiratory issues, and an aversion to logging. We also have more development in dangerous places and fewer natural processes to thin the growth, such as grazing.

Curry said, “What that’s doing is creating this buildup. Just like trying to hold back the tide eventually the dam is going to break.”

In 2018, agencies carried out about 22,000 acres of prescribed burns but more than 430,000 acres of wildfires burned.

This year, Utah is on track for about the same number of prescribed burns. 

According to Curry, “People have to have a serious paradigm shift here in Utah to realize that all fire could be potentially good for the ecosystem.”

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