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Living with FireFire Ecology and Policy for the Twenty-first Century$
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Sara Jensen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255890

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255890.001.0001

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The Failed State of Fire Suppression

The Failed State of Fire Suppression

(p.61) Three The Failed State of Fire Suppression
Living with Fire

Sara E. Jensen

Guy R. McPherson

University of California Press

This chapter presents a historical overview of federal fire suppression efforts and their ecological and economic consequences. Fire policy and management strategies from 1910 to the 1970s were dominated by the assumption that it was possible and necessary to exclude completely fire from wildland ecosystems. However, aggressive fire suppression has failed in its goal to eliminate wildland fires and negative environmental impacts continued to shape natural landscapes. Fire suppression caused fuel accumulations and led to increased wildland fires. Fire is also replaced by unnatural disturbances from elements such as bulldozers, roads, helicopters, chemical retardants, and chemical suppressants. All of these have negative effects on soils, water, vegetation, and wildlife. Soil erosion from a severe fire is worsened by damage from heavy equipment, and fire-suppressant foams and fire-retardant chemicals have toxic effects to aquatic flora and fauna.

Keywords:   fire suppression, fire policy, wildland fires, fuel accumulations, fire-suppressant foams, fire-retardant chemicals

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