Brace yourselves, we are about to point out something that we perhaps shouldn't out of fear that we will somehow jinx it. Here goes: It's been a pretty quiet wildfire season here in Crook County so far. Apologies to all of the superstitious folks out there, but it's a positive truth.
So does it stay that way? That's the question that many of us have a stake in answering as the truly hot and dry weeks of the summer continue into September and sometimes beyond. Perhaps it could – or at least we should all do our best to affect that outcome.
True there are some things that are simply outside any of our control. Storms will come and lightning may or may not strike in the wrong place at the worst time. And forest management and the quantity of wildfire fuels are largely up to people in the Forest Service and the congresspersons who write the laws.But the troubling fact is that in 2018, the percentage of human caused fires actually shifted to a point where they exceeded lightning-ignited blazes. If this trend were to remain the same or continue down its current path, it won't matter much how many storms we see in the Central Oregon area. The fires will come and like a roll of the dice, it could happen far away – like they have thus far – or they could erupt in on our own forests and other public lands.
The clean, breathable air has been great hasn't it? And as eerily captivating as the pink sunsets can be in their own Star Trek-ish sort of way, wouldn't it be nice to venture outside on a warm August evening, take a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the yellow and orange hues of a Crook County sunset against the backdrop of some white, cotton ball clouds?
That becomes a lot more likely if all of us do our part and treat fire with the care that Smokey Bear insists we should. We've all heard the recommended actions, right? Make sure your campfires are "dead out" and use fireworks in a safe and fuel-free place. Obey the fire restrictions handed down by public land agencies and be careful with anything that might throw a spark. Discarding a cigarette? Make sure it is completely extinguished and if possible, find a non-flammable place to dispose of it.
These actions may not guarantee anything. Mother Nature is as unpredictable as ever and even with all of the snow that came this late winter and the spring downpours that followed, it's still getting hot and dry out there. But at least the odds of clean air and safe forests tip in our favor a bit if we make good choices.
It's worth a try, right?
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