On Oct. 10, with an impressive array of experts at Idyllwild Arts, the group Idyllwild Forest Health Project with Mark Yardas and Mara Schoner presented “From Ashes: Lessons from the Cranston Fire.”

Even with extensive reporting, it seems a lot of people still do not realize how the preemptive efforts by Idyllwild Arts, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and others, literally saved our community.

More than two years of substantial thinning and managing a large swath of forest both on and off campus paid off manyfold to mitigate the damage.  A critical decision to light a back-burn ahead of the fire was largely instrumental in saving Idyllwild.

While aggressive, reactive measures to control and extinguish wildfires receives most of the news coverage, the painstaking, never-ending, often seemingly mundane work to thin and clear the densely wooded areas that fuel the wildfires over the years goes unheralded and is, worse yet, underfunded.

The community of Idyllwild needs to be proactive in taking actions to save itself and its forest and this will require herculean measures. Not everybody will approve in consensus which measures to use, but the Idyllwild Forest Health Project has studied success stories from other places and should be given utmost priority to lead this discussion. The required actions will be, no doubt, controversial to many, but are needed to reverse decades of nonmanagement and excessive fuel buildup surrounding our town. They will be hosting more forums that will require everybody’s engagement and participation.

The climate, the weather, the drought, government bureaucracy and the tragic criminal malfeasance we just saw, are all against us to reproduce the inevitable, unless we act to safeguard ourselves and the breadth of our beautiful mountain by making hard decisions and taking concerted efforts. Our forest is worth it; so are we.

Morgan Cannon