Did Smokey Bear Make the 1988 Yellowstone Fires Worse?
Posted at 6:32 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2013
Retro Report looks back at the Yellowstone National Park fires of 1988.
“Until the 1970s, fire policy had called for putting out every forest fire as soon as it started, creating tons of underbrush in Yellowstone — and in parks across the nation. And that underbrush had set the stage for raging wildfires. When federal officials shifted fire policy in 1972 to allow for naturally-caused fires to burn themselves out, and, hopefully, reduce potentially deadly build up of underbrush, it turned out to be too little too late. It failed to make a dent in the thousands of acres of dry underbrush that ignited in Yellowstone during the summer of 1988, the summer that gave everyone an education in fire.”