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Readers Write: Wildfires will eradicate our forests; the fatiguing fight against Islamic State

Letters to the Editor for September 29, 2014 weekly magazine:

Keller: If we don't control wildfires, it will eradicate our forests.

Frank: With new airstrikes in Iraq, the United States may be setting itself up for another costly and lengthy battle.

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    Captain Larry Turman, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, keeps an eye on flames approaching a containment line of the King fire near Fresh Pond, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 18.
    Rich Pedroncelli/AP
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Wildfires could eradicate forests

Thank you for the Sept. 8 cover story, “The Smoke Jumpers.” It does indeed portray the role of smoke jumpers who are brave, dedicated, hard working but alas ineffective. The accompanying graphic titled “Rise of the era of megafires” says it all. Because of the dual causes of overgrowth and increasing droughts, plus the human factors that cause fires during high wind months, the Southwest Rocky Mountains have lost 11 percent of all their forests! 

The economic, cultural, and human costs of these fires and the mega-floods in their aftermath are sobering. There are many approaches to reducing fire threat: thinning, prescribed burns, etc. But the rate of megafire occurrences requires suppression. The lesson is clear – change the way we suppress larger fires (and thus be able to control smaller beneficial ones) or lose our forests. It is becoming apparent that the only way to subdue large fires is with massive aircraft attack during low wind times. While highlighting the romantic nature of our storied firefighters makes interesting reading, it misses the serious point that in a generation we may not need them because there will be no forests.

Dr. Charles Keller
Los Alamos, N.M. 

Recommended: Fighting wildfires: seven cutting-edge technologies

Fatiguing fight against extremists

Regarding the Sept. 8 online article “How Obama plans to ace his big speech on ISIS” (CSMonitor.com): Much as it did with the Vietnam War, as well as the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States may be setting itself up for another costly and lengthy battle, as it prepares for military action against the Islamic State militants in Iraq. But even if airstrikes are successful in killing IS leaders, they won’t solve anything. New leadership will likely take over. IS fighters are savvy in their appeal to recruit new members. 

I believe that President Obama is merely giving into the overwhelming pressure from those who are gung-ho for another war. The US is setting itself up for another drawn out fight against an enemy that will be hard to beat.

JoAnn lee Frank
Clearwater, Fla.

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