This week marked 49 years since Earth Day was first established by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Since then, the United States has made great strides towards improving the nation's collective impact on the environment. Air pollution has fallen drastically. Efforts to clean up Superfund sites have removed toxic contaminants from hundreds of lands and rivers.
One place where we are failing, however, is healthy management of our forests. Nearly a century of anti-wildfire sentiments has damaged forest ecosystems and driven up the cost of preventing and controlling wildfires. It's time to embrace fire as a natural part of the American landscape and a crucial means of preventing devastating blazes.