Monday, July 01, 2002

Smoke and Mirrors

Most people reading this will know about the wildfires in the West as if they were in some foreign land. Sad, yes, but not relevant to your life.

Those of us who live here are breathing it. The normally clear air over the San Rafael Swell is smokey, as it has been in the summers for the past several years. The USFS blames poor forest management in the past for these fires, but it's only blowing smoke. The Forest Service used to build roads to enable fire fighters to get to the fire quickly with tank trucks and personnel. It used to cut fire breaks to stop the spread of fires, and it used to allow timber harvest which rid the forest of dead wood and thinned it, and it used to fight insect infestations that kill forests.

No more. It doesn't do any of those things anymore because of the influence of evironmentalists who think they are saving the forest by opposing all logging, even of dead trees, by demanding ever larger roadless and wilderness areas. Sometimes this is the result of poor management, often it is the result of law suits. For the stuff you won't see in the L.A.Times, the N.Y.Times, or the WaPo, read here, here and here. Senator Kyl is making the same points.

You'll notice that while all this is going on, you haven't heard about any fires in private forests, which are managed and cared for under silviculture principles developed over the last century. They work, but the environmentalists have discarded them on the theory that nature manages best. On that theory, we should give up all farming and go back to a hunter-gatherer livestyle. You're welcome to come and hunt for pine nuts in our burnt over areas.

For a report on the way the Forest Service has become hamstrung by its own procedures and review process, read this link, The Process Predicament. Junk science and bureaucracy--a powerful combination.