Catasauqua Press

Monday, June 17, 2019

Another view: Protect Pennsylvania’s woodlands

Thursday, May 12, 2016 by The Press in Opinion

Some of my friends enjoy going to the Jersey or Maryland shores for their vacations.

I prefer to go camping or hiking in Pennsylvania forests during my time off from work. Seeing the lush green trees, colorful flowers and the forest’s wildlife is relaxing.

However, when I see a forest has been destroyed by wildfire, it is depressing as I would no longer be able to enjoy its natural beauty and wildlife.

Spring is a time of beauty when flowers begin to bloom after a long winter. It is also the time when most wildfires happen.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website states the greatest danger of wildfires is during March, April and May.

A wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, has forced 88,000 residents to evacuate their homes, destroyed 1,600 structures and more than 250,000 acres of land and is spreading and threatening to reach a half-million acres.

Closer to home, a wildfire recently destroyed about 400 acres on Blue Mountain along the border of Lehigh and Carbon counties.

According to smokeybear.com, nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans.

According to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as the spring sun climbs higher in the sky, days become longer and warmer.

Trees are bare during this time, allowing the sunlight to reach the forest floor, warm the ground and dry last fall’s leaves.

This, coupled with spring’s often strong and dry wind, leads to a tremendous amount of fuel ready to burn.

“One of the major causes of forest fires in Pennsylvania is debris burning,” the website states. “A careless person burning accumulated trash can be responsible for causing thousands of acres of valuable Pennsylvania forests to burn.”

In spring 2014, there were 681 fires, which destroyed 3,945 acres of land.

Of the total number of fires, 376 were due to debris burning, and 119 were caused by an incendiary fire.

Wildfires also can be caused by campfires, children playing with matches, smoking or unmaintained equipment and chimneys.

Some of the ways to prevent wildfires include:

· Never leaving a campfire unattended;

· Making sure a campfire is totally doused with water and out before leaving;

· Never allowing children to have matches, lighters or open fires at home or while camping;

· Never dropping a lit cigarette and walking away; and

· Properly maintaining lawn and farm equipment and chimneys as they can start a fire, causing trees, grass and homes to burn and be destroyed.

Wildfires destroy valuable woodland and wildlife and threaten buildings, homes and human lives. Help protect Pennsylvania’s woodlands by educating yourself and your loved ones on the ways to prevent wildfires.

To learn more, visit dcnr.state.pa.us or smokeybear.com.

Susan Bryant

editorial assistant

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press