With the temperatures in the 90 degree range with clear blue skies one cannot help but think about forest fires, always a concern in the boreal forest. (Who would have thought a week ago there was threat of frost and lots of rain. Our weather is always an adventure. )
While fire is a natural part of the ecology of the forest there is a considerable concern for minimizing forest fire damage where is impinges on human habitation and useage of the forest lands. Close behind saving human life and properties there are efforts to save valuable timber stocks.
It is with interest that I have followed the struggle this year in the United States over forest and brush fires in their south west and south east regions. While much of Canada forested region is wilderness and semi-wilderness with relatively sparce populations the US has dense populations in their fire hazard areas this year, which dramatizes the effort of fire on the landscape.
A couple of weeks ago, there were a couple of forest fires in our area. Below is one north of Sudbury. It caused some campers to evacuate from a provincial park and closed a major road for a while, but caused little damage to human habitation. It proved to be a small fire as fires go in these parts at about 1000 acres. it was a reminder that the forest fire season is upon us. Below is a picture of the damage I scanned out of a local paper.
(click on photo to enlarge)
The vast majority of forest fires are started by lightning strikes which is why it is ironically more dangerous during rain storms than when it is as cloudlessly clear as it is this week. But sustained heat will begin to dry the land so when rainstorms come there is fuel for lightning strikes to start fires.
Nature begins the recover process almost immediately. Natures timeline is a lot longer than man's. For a few years this burned over are will be lush with blueberries and lots of young brouse or deer and moose. Before Europeans arrived, the native inhabitants used to set fires one year to improve berry picking the next.
Some fires are man made but much effort over the years has been put into managing human activity which may result in fire. There are many rules that limit human activity when the risk is high. Cutting timber in the bush was be suspended at time when it is so dry sparks from chainsaws or skidder chains on rock can set off fires. Campers can be forbidden to set out fires even for cooking. Fire permits are required and the penalty for starting a fire can be severe.
It was not always so. At one time, settlers cleared the land by burning down the forests. This was a practice behind the infamous Matheson fire of 1916 which saw 500,000 acres burn with much loss of life across the little clay belt agricultural land north of here.Matheson Fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Below is the historic plaque which is located near Matheson. (These plaques across Ontario are interesting history lessons . You can view them on this website Ontario Plaques explaining the history and heritage of Ontario. )