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Blame poor land planning in California, not fire suppression

To the editor: Creating sustainable, fire-safe environments around our homes by starting from the "house out rather than from the wildland in" is the best way to address wildfire risk. Kyle Dickman did an excellent job explaining this in his Op-Ed article. ("Why we need to learn to live with fire instead of fighting it," op-ed, Aug. 8)

However, he should have led with this important point rather than repeating the parroted assumption that "we have created our fire problem" by allowing forests to "overgrow" because of past fire suppression. While this may have merit in some mixed conifer and ponderosa pine forests, it is not true for the majority of forests in the West.

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Every forest has its own unique fire pattern. The natural fire return interval for the forests in Yellowstone is between 135 and 185 years. California chaparral — where most of the West's especially damaging fires have occurred — has too much fire rather than not enough.

The one-size-fits-all fire suppression story distracts us from the real issue — poor land planning.

Richard W. Halsey, Escondido

The writer is founder and director of the California Chaparral Institute.

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