Blazing Heritage: A History of Wildland Fire in the National by Hal K. Rothman

By Hal K. Rothman

Nationwide parks performed a distinct position within the improvement of wildfire administration on American public lands. With a special project and strong desiring to the general public, the nationwide parks have been a psychic battleground for the contests among hearth suppression and its use as a administration instrument. Blazing history tells how the nationwide parks formed federal hearth administration.

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Washington expected individual parks to deal with fires that occurred inside their boundaries or in their immediate vicinity. Superintendents reported fires and how they dealt with them, but they were largely on their own in developing strategies to offset the lack of firefighters and dollars. Superintendents cultivated local residents and worked with area Forest Service rangers to develop response systems. In most cases, the response was positive, since everyone recognized that survival at the edges required interdependence.

Chittenden advocated a proactive program of fuel load management, breaking up dense masses of vegetation, the accumulated fuel load created by time and successful suppression, but he opposed using fire as a tool to accomplish this end. 45 In 1910, Yellowstone’s timber went up in flames along with the rest of the inland Northwest. Lightning far from the main roads ignited most of the park’s fires, and high winds spread the blaze. A large area south of Yellowstone Lake burned, and new fires erupted throughout August and into September.

By 1892, the Yosemite Valley floor looked as if it were a “poorly managed cattle ranch,” observed General Land Office (GLO) special agent Captain John S. Stidger. 34 Fires continued to vex not only Yosemite National Park, but the entire Sierra Nevada region. The 1890s saw a significant change in management efforts, for federal officials, GLO special agents prominent among them, began to visit and review land use practices throughout the Southwest. Homesteaders and ranchers had raised crops and animals without oversight for at least a decade, and they, like other westerners, resented the appearance of federal officials.

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