Having never blogged before, I'll start by asking for the patience of my audience as I explore this new medium.
In 1989, the Lowman fire burned in Idaho. Named after the town of Lowman, it's about 70 miles north of Boise, where I grew up. 1989 was a hot, dry year where storms would roll through Idaho every day with lots of energy but no rain. As a result, the state was struck by dry lightning with alarming frequency. In one eight day period, 335 wildfires were ignited in the Lowman area, eventually burning over 46,000 acres of land. As wildfires go anymore, this isn't a small fire, but it isn't a big one, either. To put this into context for those who might not think in terms of acres, it was larger than the city of St Louis.
Anyways, as a kid, this was oddly both awe inspiring and nondescript. I remember seeing the billowing, mushroom cloud of smoke rising over the mountains that frame the north side of Boise and thinking it amazing. Simultaneously, I remember not being worried or upset, but digesting it as just another piece of the world in which I lived. I always assumed that it would grow back or, if it wouldn't, that someone would replant it. I mean, that's our forest, right?
Well, in 2011, I took my wife to see where I grew up. Wanting to show off the beauty of the West, I took her through several scenic small towns in Idaho which mainly consist of a dozen families, a diner, and amazing scenery. On our travels, we drove from Stanley to Lowman. Along the way, we were confronted with the scar of the Lowman fire - 22 years later. It's not really growing back. Sure, there are areas where nature has made a resurgence, but in much of, there is only grass and some brush. That's it.
The Lowman fire shocked me out of my childhood understanding of the world that someone would take care of it. Amongst other things, it motivated me to leave the service and start RenewWest. It is the reason you're reading this blog.
The thing about the Lowman fire is this - you can see a lot of it from the paved highway that traverses it. Every year millions of acres burn in the western United States and Alaska. Except for the few people who might live in the area, these areas are literally out of sight and out of mind. We're in the process of losing massive tracts of forested land every year and nearly nobody knows. Many locations won't see forest replacement for 300-500 years. In some locations, they're gone forever with a changing climate.
We've got to fix this. I'm going to try. Are you interested in helping?