Before the National Park Service Instituted fire suppression in the Western United States, the Native Americans would set controlled burns each fall in the forests of what is now California. These fires cleared away dead trees, branches and the duff allowing the native plants to flourish the next spring. The Native Americans depended on the plants for food and medicine. The fires also kept the forests healthy by returning nutrients to the soil and destroying trees that were diseased or infested with insects. Our forests are no longer healthy. Insects have ravaged the trees throughout California. Fallen trees, branches, and duff make it near impossible to hike through many forests. Once a forest fire starts, it is very difficult to control due to the amount of fuel. In most cases the wild fires destroy the healthy trees, as well as homes, along its destructive path. Fire is a necessary part of the ecosystem in most of the Western United States. The smoke from these fires have a affect on air quality far from the source. The side benefit of the smoke and ash is the stunning sunrises and sunsets.