Fire Management in the Pine Bush, Jan./Feb.
Man-Made Pine Bush?? Harvey
Alexander Tells All ,Jan./Feb. 92
Recent News-Controlled Burnings
in Pine Bush a Success, Times Union, Nov. 13, 1991
Fire? Pine Bush Better Than Ever - July/Aug 99
The Pine Bush is a fire dis-climax community. It must burn to
survive. The dominant species, the pitch pine tree, is adapted
to fire and cannot reproduce without it. Currently, the Pine Bush
is the only place in New York State that one (well, scientists
or people involved with Pine Bush preservation) can get a permit
to set a fire.
I know that sometimes the mention of controlled
burns makes the residents of the Pine Bush a bit ansy. I can sympathize,
I would not be delighted if someone said they were going to set
a fire near my house. However, the Pine Bush will burn, whether
people set controlled burns, or a wildfire starts by natural or
other causes. I have seen both - a controlled burn and a natural
wildfire. Personally, I would take the controlled burn any day.
It was about as boring an event as I can remember. Flames were
not even visible, the ground just turned black at a glacially
slow pace. There seemed to be a million fire men hanging around,
bored to tears. The controlled burn was strictly controlled; there
was absolutely no danger to any people or any property. Also,
controlled burns are not allowed within 75 feet of any structures
or private property.
On the other hand, I saw a natural wildfire in 1980. I will never
forget my terror. My friend, John Wolcott, talked me into driving
him out to the Pine Bush so he could take pictures of the event.
All of the main roads to the Pine Bush were closed to traffic
because of the smoke. Of course, John knows all of the back roads,
and we managed to drive in pretty close to the City Preserve.
And then John wanted to walk into the Preserve to get photos.
So, against my better judgement, we walked into the City Preserve.
At that point, the fire was north of us and the wind was blowing
the thick, smothering smoke north away from us. John snapped away,
while I anxiously watched the wind direction (people die in fires
of smoke inhalation long before the fire arrives). As the wind
began to change, I suggested that we leave. But, there seemed
to be one more picture. And then we found a crazy high school
student taking pictures too! We couldn't leave him, so I kept
trying to persuade everyone to leave. Eventually, just ahead of
the deadly smoke, we ran out.
No, thank you, I will take a controlled burn any
day. Wildfires start when there is a build up of burnable material.
Controlled burns can eliminate this build up of combustible organic
material before it becomes dangerous. Ed.