Essay topics: In the United States, it had been common practice since the late 1960s no to suppress natural forest fires. The “let it burn” policy assumed that forest fire would burn themselves out quickly, without causing much damage. However, in the summer of 1988, forest fires in Yellowstone, the most famous national park in the country, burned for more than two months and spread over a huge area, encompassing more than 800,000 acres. Because of the large scale of the damage, many people called for replacing the “let it burn” policy with a policy of extinguishing forest fires as soon as they appeared. Three kinds of damage caused by the “let it burn” policy were emphasized by critics of the policy.
First, Yellowstone fires caused tremendous damage to the park’s trees and other vegetation. When the fires finally died out, nearly one third of Yellowstone’s land had been scorched. Trees were charred and blackened from flames and smoke. Smaller plants were entirely incinerated. What had been a national treasure now seemed like a devastated wasteland.
Second, the park wildlife was affected as well. Large animals like deer and elk were seen fleeing the fire. Many smaller species were probably unable to escape. There was also concern that the destruction of habitats and the disruption of food chains would make it impossible for the animals that survived the fire to return.
Third, the fires compromised the value of the park as a tourist attraction, which in turn had negative consequences for the local economy. With several thousand acres of the park engulfed in flames, the tourist season was cut short, and a large number of visitors decided to stay away. Of course, local businesses that depended on park visitors suffered as a result.
“Let it burn” policy means don’t suppressing natural forest fires and in the terms of whether the policy should be stopped or not, the writer of the reading and the professor are contradictory to each other. They talks about advantages and disadvantages of the policy about the last natural forest fire in Yellowstone that destroyed a wide area.
Fist of all, the writer says that Yellowstone’s forest fire destroyed a wide variety of plants and vegetation. The professor, on the other hand, believes that plants became more diverse after the fire than they were in the past. For one, before the fire, many small plants that needed open areas couldn’t grow because of trees, now they can. Also, the plants’ seeds that couldn’t stimulate entirely because of lack of sunlight and heat, can grow better now. So, from this aspect the natural forest fire greatly improved the plants diversity of the area.
The author also brings up the idea that the fire affected the wildlife of the park by killing huge number of animals and broking up the food chain. However, the lecturer refuted the idea by taking about another point of view. She states that, many animals, like plants, not only recovered after the event, but also the fire helped for shaping a new habitat for small animals and a stronger food chain. For instance, growing small plants created a suitable habitat for small animals such as rabbits and hares. These small animals attracted their predators and all together shaped a better food chain.
Finally, the reading says that the park was an important factor for attracting tourists and the fire impeded the city’s tourist industry and hurt the related jobs. But, the speaker argues that the phenomena would seriously damage tourists attraction only if it happens every year; in fact natural forest fires need a very complicated combination of wide natural factors such as low rainfall, strong wind, unusual drought, and so on, to happen. Thus, the natural forest fires happen rarely and they won’t seriously damage the tourist industry of the city.
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