LArry Bancroft, who helps fashion fire policy at Sequoia and Kings Canyon, says the long-term goal there remains one of gradually expanding the area where lightning fires are permitted, to include much of the mid-elevation forest.
Even if controlled burning succeeded in returning fuels to a natural level, several factors would still force fire crews to suppress lightning fires in much of the middle-elevation forest.
In prehistoric times, lightning fires started in lower-elevation scrubland far outside the parks and then spread up into the forests.
The Sierra parks spend about $30,000 annually on prescribed burning, whereas the federal government poured more than $13 million into fighting this summer's lightning fires at Yosemite.
Even where the Park Service uses prescribed fires to reduce fuels, such as in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the ultimate goal is to let lightning fires burn.
Some university professors and environmentalists testified to Congress that preserving fire is of paramount importance, and that people living around or visiting Park and Wilderness areas must take their chances with lightning fires.
Complicating the problem is the fact that there are no safe lightning fires in large expanses of untreated forest, such as the lodgepole pine forests of Yellowstone.
The Park Service is trying to avoid using prescribed fires in lodgepole pine forests by arguing that they are too dangerous, yet it advocates using lightning fires that are much more dangerous.
We must accept the truth that chance lightning fires alone cannot restore vegetation mosaics in Park and Wilderness areas to their natural or presettlement scale and diversity.
Shortly after moving to Florida in 2006, I began witnessing nearby homes being destroyed by lightning fires
," said Len Hathaway, a retired fire protection consultant and former chairman of NFPA Technical Committees on Electric Generating Plants and Fire Protection for Nuclear Facilities.
Three smaller lightning fires
nearby in the Diamond Lake Ranger District were contained Tuesday, but fire officials were bracing for more lightning the rest of the week.
Recent reports of two devastating lightning fires
to south Florida homes equipped with improperly-installed lightning protection systems reiterate the importance of experience, industry affiliation and certification when hiring a lightning protection contractor.
To implement Yellowstone's objective of permitting as many lightning fires as possible to burn under natural conditions, the Park's two prescriptions relate only to location.
The Service, aware of the abnormally dry weather and explosive fuel buildup, might have moved to contain some of the June lightning fires.
Fire Administration says two-thirds of lightning fires
happen from June through August, with 55% of these fires occurring outdoors and 41% occurring in structures.