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June 12, 1975 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-06-12

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i
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Let it burn: Snuffing Smokey's syndrome
By BETH NISSEN ecological tragedy - the pa- of the fire can make trees re- were too big for the warblers to acres. There was considerable
fN A BREEZY morning in thetic scenes of the forests, lease their seeds and the fire nest in. Jack pines gcow at the damage done to pulp wood that
early May, a number of lo- once magnificent, of injured and itself can prepare a seedbel on rate of a little less than a foot had been cut but not removed
cal mushroom fanciers harvest- homeless creatures of the for- the forest floor for the releas- a year. That means that in from the area; hat damage
ed their favorite delectable est, and all the devastation ed seeds." 1983 or 1984, we'll have a new was estimated at around $4,0W.
fungi from the floor of $he for- Smokey the Bear sternly warns area for them all prepared, and The remainder of the spring's
est in Dunaway, Michigan, to- of in the televised commercials. THE DUNAWAY area of for- it lies in the same direction in mushroom crop was also lost,
cated twenty miles west of These well-publicized caution- est contained large amounts of which the birds are graduAlly although the season was near-
Houghton Lake. By the middle ary campaigns have resulted in aspen, jack pine, and some oak migrating." ing a close at the time the fires
of the afternoon, thousands of what may be called the Smokey trees. "People think the etosystem were ignited.
acres of the forest were in the Bear syndrome; the public Aspen have thin bark and are is very fragile," said Professor THE AREA was recreational
flames. equates any spark in any for- destroyed by fire, but regener- Woodman. "But the ecosystem only in that there were a series
In the early afternoon, some- est with destruction of tha en- ate very quickly. One range- at can regenerate. And if you of motorcycle scramble tracks
one put a torch to the woodland vironment which permanently the Department of Resources in don't have some sort of de- through the fringes of the burn-
brush, starting four separate scars the land or takes centur- Roscommon County estimated struction periodically, the eco- ed wooded area. Thc large pro-
fires. ies to erase. Yet forest fires that the burned aspni would system will produce things we portion of the acreage was pulp
The wildfire spread quickly in are not always holocaustal in be replaced in two year's time. don't want. We can prevent this land.
the breeze. It blazed fiercely for effect on the ecosystem. In The jack pine cones open in the :.. . :..':.. ::::-.:.::.:-":..:,"
eight and a half hours and .en- some cases, including the f i r e heat of fire; their seeds wi 1
listed the efforts of over a hun- in Dunaway, fire can be bene- fall on the rich floor of burnt "in some cases, including the fire in Duna-
dred trained fire-controlling fcial to the ecosystem in the debris and germinate, thus re-
personnel. Thirty units of equip long-run, and improve the en- generating. Oak trees are cap- way, fires can be beneficial to the ecosystem
ment were called in to impede vironment in much the s a m e able of withstanding more heat; in the long-run, and improve the environment
the progress of the wildfire: way as the legendary flood im- although some die in wildfires,
trucks; sprayers, tractor plows. proved the earth in Noah's time others are charred and remain as Noah's flood improved the earth."
The sun rose the following - by first destroying the bad living. Both the dead and living
inand thenr la.n it wih te rniiig:on::uetsmdngringr:in-

morning on the smoldering rem-
nants of 4,004 acres of Michigan
forestland.
FOREST FIRES, caused by
either arsonist, amateur camp-
er, or careless smoker, a 1-
most instantly bring to m i n d

MM801ZPI Pg L IJĀ«
good.
"Fires can be very aneife-
ial," said Professor Ernest
Woodman of the University's
Department of Natural Resourc-
es. Fire removes all excess fol-
iage on the ground. The heat

The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Thursday, June 12, 1975
News Phone: 764-0552
Letters t oe tlts
long-overdue recognition
AT LAST.
The Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics,
in one of the finest displays of progressive, enterprising
University action in recent memory, has finally given
women athletes the recognition they rightly deserve.
The Board's move to allow the campus' female jocks
the right to receive the identical yellow block "M"
award traditionally reserved for the University's male
athletes, is one which can only serve to enhance and
enrich the sports program which, until late, suffered
from total male dominance.
The Board's move was not a mere token measure. It
took action which has effectively placed women ath-
letes side by side with their male counterparts and given
them the opportunity to aspire to the highest of Michi-
gan's sports awards--an opportunity they should have
been granted at the inception of the women's intercol-
legiate athletic program last fall.
The only vexing chapter in this otherwise delight-
ful story was written by the numerous opponents of
this action, who for weeks have been petitioning Board
members to vote against allowing women to receive iden-
tical block "M" awards. "M" Club President William
Mazer. in a last ditch dramatic plea to the club's 3,000
alumni members, urged a letter writing campaign that
would convince the Board's 18 members that "for the
yellow 'M' to be awarded for synchronized swimming,
softball and so forth : . . would make the award worth-
less .
Coaches Bo BShembechler and Johnny Orr also fell
to emotional appeals. imploring the Board to guard
against any move which would "minimize" the value of
the "M" and dilute the meaning of an ;award which "has
always stood for excellence of performance in the tough-
est competition in the nation among men." The Daily
suggests that those male athletes who share their
coaches' attitudes add the letters "CP" to their treas-
ured yellow "M";
The action which the Board took Tuesday night
hopefully will spark further expansion of the women's
athletic program. Despite what some would have us
believe, a womens' place is -not always in the kitchen.
Some kind of like the locker room.j

shade for the new seellings.
The area burned by the Dun-
away fire was inhabited by
deer, but the deer will also bene-
fit from the fire in the form of
an additional food source. "The
deer eat the little sprouts that
grow from the fallen seed," ex-
plained Woodman. "The birds
also feed off them. Tha animals
perform necessary weeding-out
functions so that some of the
trees will be given room to grow
to a mature size."
THE DUNAWAY firewas ori-
ginally thought to have threat-
ened the habitat of an en-
dangered local bird species, the
Kirtland's warbler. These deli-
cate birds brood in the lower
branches of jack pines in the
lower peninsula of tie State.
John Byelich, a Department of
Natural Resources specialist in
the habits of the Kirtland's
warbler, commented that t h e
fire will eventually contribute
to the preservation of the near-
extinct warbler. "The fire was
not close to the present habi-
tat of the birds," said Bylich.
"But the fire is going to result
in the creation of a new area
for the warblers to settle in.
The warblers need jack pines
that are six or seven feet high.
The jack pines in that area
-fd MiWAUKL J-61OtAINA.

production with an ax, with a
saw, or with fire. And some-
times, fire is the best alterna-
tive."
ECOLOGISTS and foresters
regularly use controlled fires to
improve forest lands. T h e s e
"prescribed" fires are usually
started under ideal c o n t rol
conditions: fires are started in
the early morning to take ad-
vantage of the natriral damp-
ness, and on a day when the
wind is at a low telacity. The
fire is usually co-iained to a
maximum of five or six hun-
dred acres.
A prescribed bun planned for
a few hundred acres in the Dun-
away area was in progress at
the time the incendiary files
were set.
"There was no possible way
for the fire to have started from
the prescribed fire," said Char-
les Bomaster, Regional F i r e
Supervisor for ie Dunaway
area. "Besides the proof we
have of arson, the distance be-
tween the presacaed fire and
the other four set fires was too
great. And you never have hot
embers travel against the wind,
especially not one and three
quarters miles against tie wind.
It's just impossible.
Instead of 200 acres the for-
est was cleared of over 4,000

Various areas around Gray-
ling, Michigan wern hit by set
fires in the early part of May;
ten fires were set in forests 'n
the area in the first week of
the month.
Officials of the Michigan State
Police in Houghton Lake a -c
working with experts in the De-
partment of Natural Resources
in Roscommon County tta deter-
mine the arsonists' identitss
and motives. Bomaster, who has
been working witn the Police
on the investigation, said there
was no obvious motive. "I guess
you would have to ask the ar-
sonist's psychologist about
that," he said. "Wildfires can
be destructive; we were just
very lucky in this particular
case. There was no human in-
jury and no signficant damage
to commercial propzrty."
"The effect of the fires was
good overall," con'inued Bo-
master. "That area was beint
treated anyway for habitat irl -
provement, and the fire help-
ed us, although a little more
than we planned. But we din't
suggest that people go arund
improving the forests in Mich-
igan by lighting a match t
them."
Beth Nissen is ci merter
of the Editorial poqe :toff.

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This is going to hurt me more than it is you.

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