Fire and drought in paradise – Say it isn’t so, Smokey
The last two summers have resulted in historic wildfire activity on the US mainland – 8.2 and 9.1 million acres burned in 2011 and 2012, respectively (National Interagency Fire Center 2012). Unfortunately for Smokey Bear, who may be looking for an opportunity to hang up his shovel for a surfboard for a few months, a trip way out west to the Hawaiian Islands would not serve as a vacation. In fact, Smokey would find "paradise" to have a hornet's nest of fire issues. Indeed, there is fire in paradise even during the "winter" or vacation months, thanks largely to a tropical climate that supports year-round fire potential and a veritable smorgasbord of nonnative plants that provide continuous and highly flammable fuels. Because of the uninterrupted threat for anthropogenic and natural ignitions, which have been compounded by drought conditions over the past five years, Smokey's message of "Stop wildfires" is welcome in Hawaii. In fact, his widely recognized wildfire awareness campaign may be more appropriate in the Aloha State as compared to western states.