Forest fires are bad, bad, bad. Period
Whenever this observer hears anyone say that forest fires are “good,” you have to wonder if their mental elevator goes all the way to the top floor. Here is why forest fires are bad:
They rob of us of the beauty of trees and the usefulness of wood. They pollute the air. They contribute to the “greenhouse effect.” They negatively impact the ozone layer. Fire residue contaminates our streams, lakes and rivers. Forest fires cause soil erosion and massive flooding. They kill wild animals and destroy their habitat. Saying forest fires are “good” is just bureaucratic CYA after the forest fires get out of control and destroy people, animals and the places where they live.
You may recall that the U.S. Park Service has some of the finest minds of the Eight Century BC who decided not to fight the infamous Yellowstone National Park forest fire of over a decade ago and darn near let Yellowstone National Park and its historic facilities burn to the ground. And, despite the claims of the environ-nuts, the Yellowstone burn still looks like crap and will continue to do so for the rest of your natural life and mine.
But the blame for the more current examples of forest mismanagement rests on the environ-nuts who infest the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Pity Interior Secretary Gale Norton who, tied up in Civil Service red tape, cannot rid her department of these people or at least get them out of policy-making positions. But then, this observer does not always agree with Secretary Norton.
For example, while Secretary Norton is in favor of cleaning out the forests, building roads to help fire-fighters have access to fight forest fire and favors the “wise use” of our renewable forest products, I do not agree with her when she says that we need to let certain forests burn in order to rid them of fuel build-up on their forest floors. No. Instead, we should follow the European example.
Despite the ravages of two World Wars in the previous century, Western Europe is covered with beautiful forests. Question: Have you ever heard of a forest fire getting out of hand in Europe? Of course not. That is because when a tree falls in the German woods -- not only does someone hear it – someone goes in and gets that tree and does something useful with it.
As a result, the floors of German and most western European forests are clean as a boar’s tooth. Because there is no fuel build-up, when lightening strikes or the village idiot starts a forest fire, the fire can be readily extinguished.
Unfortunately, this country is plagued with the likes of the Sierra Club and others enviro-nut organizations who support their fellow environ-nuts inside the U.S. Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management in their policy of allowing fuels to build up on the floors of our forests.
Soon, you will be hearing the horror stories about landowners adjacent to BLM lands who spotted many of this season’s forest fires in their early stages and asked for permission to enter BLM land and put them out. Oh no. Permission denied. They were told to wait until the BLM and/or the USPS would send fire fighters who know what they are doing. Hours later, the official firefighters arrive; however, the fires were, by then, out of control and on their way to killing wild animals, people, destroying their homes, polluting streams and the air and wreaking all of the havoc of a full-blown forest fire.
Folks, this is not only stupid, it is criminal. Hopefully, the November elections will give the Administration and Secretary Norton the needed clout in Congress to clean out the governmental enviro-nuts and to tell the Sierra Club to put its environmentally unsound and destructive policies in a place where the sun doesn’t shine.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack on Colorado’s high country water projects.
©2002. William Hamilton.