Restoring Ecosystem Health in Frequent-Fire Forests in the American West.



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Category: Ecological Research

Title: Restoring Ecosystem Health in Frequent-Fire Forests of the American West

Author: * Covington, W.W.

Subject: Ecological Restoration, Management

Abstract: We are at a fork in the road in the American West. Down one fork lies burned-out, depauperate forest landscapes-landscapes that will be a liability for current and future generations. Down the other fork lies healthy, diverse, sustaining forest landscapes-landscapes that will bring multiple benefits for generations to come. Our present inaction is taking us down the path to unhealthy forest landscapes that are costly to manage. Scientifically based forest restoration treatments, including thinning and prescribed burning, will set us on the path to healthy forested landscapes-landscapes like the early settlers and explorers saw in the late 1800s. Knowing what we now know, it would be grossly negligent for us not to move forward with large-scale, restoration-based fuel treatments in the dry forests of the western United States. Inaction is now the greatest threat to the long-term sustainability of these ecosystems. It is time for ecologists, natural resource professionals, and others with relevant expertise to bring coherent, objective facts, and informed recommendations to the public and to national, regional, and local decision-makers. This paper presents my thinking on how to reverse the trend of increasing catastrophic wildfires in the dry forests of the West.

Date: 2003

Type: Journal

Source: Ecological Restoration

Identifier: 21(1):7-11

Publisher: The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, http://ecologicalrestoration.info/

Format: PDF

Language: English