American Forest Fires

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:12/06/2022 Updated:12/09/2022

For two years I have worked with EarthxTV to bring about their first in-house production: a series entitled, American Forest Fires. This is a one-of-a-kind series detailing the history which goes back a thousand years, the compliant role of the environmental movement instigating this ecological disaster, and the policy options needed for reform and community safety.  

Primarily in the western United States for thirty years we have experienced monumental forest fires that have destroyed half of California’s forests, killed several hundred people, incinerated whole towns. Environmental policies restricting forest management have created devastating fires with disastrous environmental and human health consequences. 

To understand what is happening today we need to go back several millennia into the history of our western landscapes.

The American public today is largely unaware that pre-Columbian AmerIndians burned our forest landscapes for thousands of years to create meadows and grassland patches throughout our forests. They did this from Maine and Georgia to California and Oregon. This is why eastern bison herds migrated annually from Georgia to New York along Appalachian ridges and why there were eastern elk herds. All our western conifer forests were burned extensively and the forest floors were primarily grasslands to host game species.

President Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot established our western National Forests in the first decade of the Twentieth century they intended those forests to be managed sustainably to provide jobs and income to support rural schools and intermountain communities. A devastating fire in 1910 led to extensive fire suppression policies by the new USFS which has continued to this very day. Starting in the 1970s an onslaught of environmental legislation and restrictive management policies led to a precipitous decline in forest management: The Wilderness Act, the imposition of Roadless Areas, NEPA regulations, and finally the Endangered Species Act together created a geographic evisceration of forest management across western states and in New Jersey’s pine barrens. This came to a final denouement with the listing of the spotted owl in 1990 which put between 40-80,000 western loggers and small forest products companies out of work. These factors led to an explosion of forest undergrowth which created the kindling for fire storms which we have experienced for more that 30 years. The environmental community has fought and litigated against any imposition of forest management to solve this catastrophic, manmade incineration of western forests.

An additional complicating factor has been building homes in forest areas and adjacent to our National Forests in what is called the urban-wildland fire interface. This human habitation factor is what makes combating wildfires so expensive.

The media claims these fires are a result of global warming – this is incorrect. Yes, we are in a repetitive drought cycle, but California has had droughts for hundreds of years. That is why California’s Spanish missions collapsed in the late 1600s when California experienced a thirty-year drought. Weather cycles are an exacerbating condition, however they are being used to mask a nation-wide and regional policy of human error, mis-management and ecological obtuseness.

American Forest Fires is the first film to unmask the true danger as being human error and malfunction, and it concludes with clear recommendations for financial and management reform. 


re: American Forest Fires
By: Bruce Ward on: 12/07/2022

This is a great series and so glad to see it bring a better understanding of the complexity facing us on so many forest issues.