Why I Burned the Forest
Destruction and regeneration on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.
Something recoils: Something doesn’t like the idea of setting fire to the forest. The mind resists even as the hands busy themselves—filling a drip torch with diesel and gasoline, lighting the wick, tipping the canister’s spout towards the ground to let the burning fuel flow out. It resists as the hush of the trees is undone by the crackle of trailing flame growing behind you.
These fires help keep the forest healthy. See the longleaf pines, the tall ones? They support our whole ecosystem in the Southeast, and they depend on fires from lightning strikes to clear the ground. These woods will grow back greener and healthier.
Are you all right
Enter your email address to receive notifications for author James Chapin
Confirmation link sent to your email to add you to notification list for author James Chapin
More in this series
I wish I could tell my dad that I worked to recreate the newsroom. That people still think newspaper stories—and stories about newspapers—are worth telling.
It’s not my job to absorb every feeling a man has. In my classroom, I am the one who decides whose feelings get airtime, and how they are shared.