Empire Editorial: Bears and fire - the scent of the season

Spring is here, and with it that glorious waxing sunshine. While we bake in the sun’s rays, so are Southeast’s verdant forests. Last week, Capital City Fire and Rescue and Tongass National Forest officials cautioned that dry, windy conditions have made Southeast ripe for wildfire.

We live in a rain forest, but the former element in that twin noun has been missing. A pair of grass fires blackened patches of Douglas Island last weekend, and CCFR briefly issued a burn ban before conditions changed.

As long as conditions remain dry — no rain has fallen in Juneau since April 29 — wildfire danger will remain significant. Smokey the Bear isn’t a frequent visitor to Juneau, and we’d like to keep it that way. Please watch your barbecues, cigarette butts and campfires.

While you’re at it, keep a lookout for our resident bears as well. Smokey doesn’t live in Juneau, but plenty of his cousins do.

Bear activity is almost back to summer levels, and that means bears will soon be getting into trash — unless YOU do something to stop them. A fed bear is a dead bear, biologists say, and a fed bear may be eating from your pocketbook, too.

Last year, the CBJ Assembly issued an ordinance that holds homeowners liable if they don’t maintain bearproof garbage containers. Failing to keep a bear out of your garbage is a misdemeanor backed by steep fines.

Let’s keep Juneau wild and free — keep your garbage and fires under control.

• Empire editorials are written by the Juneau Empire’s editorial board. Members include Publisher Rustan Burton, rustan.burton@juneauempire.com; Director of Audience Abby Lowell, abby.lowell@juneauempire.com; Managing Editor Charles L. Westmoreland, charles.westmoreland@juneauempire.com; and Asst. Editor James Brooks, james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

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