Thinning, have you ever heard this term before? Chances are, you have heard it around you, in passing, in reference to your property or of a friends. Maybe your father-in-law talks about his hair in this manner at every family gathering… Regardless of how you have heard it before, I want to share with you what this word means from a Wildland Firefighters’ perspective. Thinning is the action of mechanically or manually removing a portion of grasses, shrubs, branches or trees from an area. A great example of this is in the video below. In the video, I walk from a ‘thinned’ section of forest over an invisible line into a ‘non thinned’ area of forest.
Thinning is undoubtedly a verb that requires your active participation to plan and implement the correct strategy for your land. While fire is a big reason to thin your land, there are a host of other reasons to do so such as encouraging animal habitats, creating sustainable hunting grounds, promoting healthy growth of the current stand, reduced tree mortality, and the list goes on. Thinning is an important and ethical silviculture practice. The land was once more wide open to grow and burn as it desired. Wildlife could move and grow with those patterns as well as new life being carried as seeds in the wind. We have changed this landscape. We have demanded the landscape adapt to our every whim and newly constructed home into the forest. Wildfire is beginning to take back its voice. Each year it roars louder and gets our attention with more and more devastation. We must work with the land to find a medium, a balance. It is not wise to keep building near the woods and expect fire to respect our home. With proper planning and mitigation techniques we can live with fire in our backyard. We must take action, and it starts with thinning, before the fire starts.