"Light Burning" Debate in the early 1900's: Research Brief Series

In the early 20th century, there was an intense controversy over systematic “light burning, the practice of using cool fire as a management tool (similar to what we call prescribed fires today). These practices for fire control were highly debated before fire suppression policies overwhelmingly prevailed. Below is a series of research briefs that review publications from this controversy at this interesting look into history.

Forest Management vs. Fighting Fire with Fire in 1912

This paper from 1912 shows the practice of "light burning" as a management tool has been part of the discussion for over a decade. 
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Boerker, R. H. 1912. Light burning versus forest management in Northern California. Forest Quarterly 10(2):184-194. 

Fairbanks Argues Against “Light Burning” in 1911

This brief summarizes a historic paper from 1911 that shows the question of "light burning" has been around for decades.
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Fairbanks, H. W. 1911. Shall we use fire as an aid to forestry? The Overland Monthly 57(3): 304-312. 

Light Burning is “Piute Forestry” by Another Name

In this paper from 1920, Greeley (USFS chief) argued that “light burning” was just “Piute Forestry,” primitive, impossible to control and a destructive path to valueless shrubland.
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Greeley, W.B. 1920. “Piute Forestry” or the fallacy of light burning. The Timberman 21(5): 38-39. 

Early “Light Burning” Opposition

Early papers such as this one from 1924 show that "light burning" was questioned early on.
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MacDaniels, E. H. 1924. National forest jungles: the theory of “light burning” in yellow pine is disproved. The Timberman 25(3)”50-51. 

Ogle Defends 1920’s “Light Burning” 

This brief is based on an editorial from 1920 that shows the benefits of "light burning" were argued for even in the early 1900's.
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Ogle, C.E. 1920. Light burning. The Timberman 21(9):106-108. 

Pratt’s Arguments Against “Light Burning” in 1911: Research Brief

Mr. Pratt in 1911 published an argument against the “light burning” practices of those days, claiming these small fires were unnecessary and only caused an expensive loss of merchantable lumber over the years. Like other light-burning advocates, he had no research on his side.  
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Pratt, M. B. 1911. Results of “light burning” near Nevada City, California. Forest Quarterly:420-422.

Show Argues That Light Burning Creates Brush Fields

An article from an USFS California Chief in 1928 defended fire suppression policies of the time.
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Show, S. B. 1928. The “light burning” menace to California forests. West Coast Lumberman (55): 50. 

Show Finds Inconsistencies Among Light Burn Plans

An article from an USFS California Chief in 1920 that set out to "debunk" the light burning arguments.
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Show, S. B. 1920. Forest fire protection in California. The Timberman 21 (3): 37, 88-90.

White Calls for Better “Light Burning” Research in 1920

With several letters of support (responses to a previous Sunset article that he wrote) but very little scientific evidence, Stewart Edward White remained skeptical of established fire suppression policies and demanded better fire research. 
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White, S.E. 1920. Getting at the truth: is the forest service really trying to lay bare the facts of the light-burning controversy? Sunset 44(5):62, 80-82.