With my profound apologies to Mr. Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see

A fuel more perfect than a tree.

A tree whose bark is hugged and pressed

Against some hippie’s wholesome breast.

A tree that may deign to protect

Some spotted owls -- to be correct.

A tree that Nature’s whimsy burns,

Till Man imposed his tainted terms.

Now campers’ fires burn half the West

But, really, God can do it best.

The fires ravaging our western states are a metaphor for all well-intentioned but wrong-headed intervention. The tree huggers have in fact done as much harm to their beloved Gaia as their nemesis, the chemical companies. The truth is that the forests have been killed with kindness, and this devastating summer was inevitable. The natural cycle has forests burning with regularity, and protecting them for generations has built up a prodigious supply of fuel and created a multi-million acre bomb just waiting for a dry spell.

The long-term cure is not worshipful protection but enlightened logging, even on public land. Especially on public land. Harvesting forests not only promotes their health, it creates jobs and gives us raw materials for industry and building trades. In the process someone will make a profit. There’s the rub. Profit. It’s a dirty word to the tree huggers. The fact that their methods have failed and the filthy, greedy, exploitive capitalists’ methods work doesn’t deter them.

You probably don’t have a forest, but there is a good chance you have some trees. And if you don’t, this is a great time to plant some. There are a couple of good reasons for fall planting. First, the conditions are just right. We usually have ample rainfall at the end of the season. Unlike spring, the soil is warm, promoting root growth. And the air is cool, so there is no heat stress. Second, and better still, trees are cheap now. Nurseries would rather sell them than store them through the winter.

Trees are easy to plant. Old instructions to prepare a richly amended hole the size of a hotel foundation are past. New thinking is that you stick it in the soil you were stuck with and let it sink or swim.

Dig a hole a bit bigger than the root ball. With the tree in place and the soil packed around the sides, make a small earthen dam in a circle a couple of feet across to hold water. Then water it in well. Add three or four inches of mulch to keep the soil warm into early winter. Easy.

Deciding WHERE to put a tree takes more effort than planting it. I have seen trees that will reach 40 feet planted a step from the foundation. Don’t. Some trees require full sun, others like some mid-day shade. Do your homework and give it some careful consideration.

Maybe you already have yard trees. Fall is a good time to hack them down and plant something better. A generation ago many trees were planted with little thought of what 30 or 40 years would bring. If a tree is too big, if its roots are killing your lawn or garden, if it is buggy or diseased, chop it down.

If you promise to replace your junk trees, I will spare you my new and improved rendition of Woodman, Spare That Tree.