As wildfires burn across the West, many Americans have lost their loved ones, their homes and all their possessions. My prayers are with everyone who has been displaced or who is heroically fighting the fires, and I hope these blazes are quickly contained.


Unfortunately, fires like this have become so common that we refer to this time of year as "wildfire season." I don’t think we just have to accept this as the new normal. In all my years as a forester, I’ve seen firsthand that scientific forest management works. These are common sense policies that we need now to prevent devastating fires like these in the future.


When I say "forest management," it’s important to clarify that I’m not proposing clear cutting. Instead, we can use practices like thinning from below and removing lower-quality trees to make residual trees healthier and more resistant to fire and pests. Arkansas landowners have used tactics like these to keep our forests thriving, not only providing us with clean air and water but also improving our wildlife habitats.


I believe we can use our example as a model for the rest of the country to follow.


Each state will have different geographical requirements, but the basic principle remains: manage our forests well to prevent brush and dead trees from creating tinderboxes. The science supports this method. We have all the right tools at our disposal to prevent severe wildfires, now we just have to put them into action.