In AD 64, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. In 2011, the western United States burned and the federal government fiddled.
The year is now 2012, and the fires have already started and the federal government has added more fiddles to the orchestra! Records show that the number and acreage of large, devastating fires have increased since the late 1970s, which is the time when the federal government changed the management and uses on federally controlled lands to comply with the desires of the rising pseudo-environmental movement.
Prior to that time, fires happened naturally and by man, but were generally controlled at minimal cost. Fire prevention efforts were a goal to protect the watershed, forage and timber. That was accomplished by reducing the fuels by thinning out and utilizing the dense and dying timber, and grazing cattle and sheep to reduce flashy forage fuels. Ranchers, loggers, wood gatherers and hunters were around to notice any new smokes and take action to contain or put them out.
The use of these resources accomplished the desired protection and built the local economies and improved the watersheds. In the conduct of this type of management, wildlife benefited and increased due to construction of watering sources and creation of more diverse habitat of cover and forage species.
If this worked so well, why has the Forest Service spent over 41 billion (our tax money) per year in three of the past six years in fire suppression? There are several facets to the answer, but the bottom line is that the national forests are no longer managed for resource use and protection! Their mission is to control people and prevent their use of resources, to be in compliance with the goals of the Presidents Council on Sustainable Development.
Their own report shows rapidly increasing fuel buildup from lack of use and management. There are thousands of acres of spruce and pine trees dying from insect buildups exacerbated by the stagnation of overly dense stands of trees.. These dying trees are not and cannot be utilized to reduce the fire hazard, but that is a whole other story.
The overly dense stands deplete the soil of moisture, which negatively affects vegetative growth and all water supplies and uses.
Fire suppression costs are also increased due to poor roads, or the lack of roads, to access and fight a fire. For example, wilderness areas are inaccessible by any form of motorized equipment and have been allowed to deteriorate and build up massive fuels. Now they want to add even more large areas, which they refer to as roadless areas, most of which are not really roadless at all. They are actually creating de facto wilderness areas that will likely go up in smoke in the near future. The dollar cost of firefighting is only a small portion of the economic losses.
One has to ask, how did we get into such a mess? Quite simply, beginning in the 1970s, the so-called environmental groups began to be infiltrated and taken over by greedy opportunists. These new people/organizations began a campaign to transfer the wealth of the nation, which had been created by work and production, to themselves. Their use of emotion, distorted facts, blatant lies and redefining of words has netted them funding from foundations, government grants, international banks and individual donations, sufficient to reach their goals of becoming sustainable multimillion-dollar corporations, designed as nonprofits, all at the expense of the country, our resources and the individual taxpayer.
They have been very good at it! The vast majority of the populace have believed and bought into the environmental lie. We have been duped! They have convinced us they are protecting and conserving the environment for you and me. They use computer models to depict conditions and predict future effects and events.
Is the computer a magical seer? No; it puts out what you ask it to, which is based upon what you put into it, mostly averages, estimates, distorted data and guesses. Then, magically, they say the answer is a hard scientific fact because it came from the computer model, and we believe them? In computerese, what is fact is knowing, junk in, junk out!
This very questionable model data is then used to come up with standards, limits and forecasts on environmental issues, all to keep their funding coming! Did you ever ask what and how much pollutant is emitted from a coal-fired power plant as compared to just one large forest fire! Is either really a pollutant?
What you see may not be what you are being told. They say wildfire is good and the generator to make our lives better is bad? All because somebody, with his own agenda, decided so. And we believe them?
Does logging or grazing livestock damage the forest and grasslands? Does building a dirt road and driving a motorized four-wheel drive or bike really damage the forest? Just what constitutes damage?
The greatest damage to the forested lands is being caused by our own governments failure to manage, use and develop the land and resources. This is a violation of its oath as trustee of the lands. This is being done by specific directives from our federal governments in Washington.
Neros orchestra of federal agencies and non-governmental organizations have their fiddles tuned up and are playing this very day as the smoke is building from fires that are burning up the forest resources! This problem would not have happened if the Constitution had been followed and abided by at statehood. The control of the land and resources within the state must be returned to state jurisdiction if sensible, good management, use and protection of the land and resources is ever to occur again.
Dexter Gill is a retired state and tribal forester who lives near Lewis.