If you work around people in the environmental industry, you’ll find differences in opinions about how to manage forestland. Some activists believe in a completely natural policy—let Mother Nature do her thing. Others believe in wise management that includes controlled burns and clearing brush and diseased or fallen trees.
The Colorado wildland fires point to the need for debate on those practices because current policy may have contributed to human misery.
The forestland may be in Colorado, but the federal government has absolute control over it. Other humans also have an impact—it’s no secret that pot grows, smuggling and exotic species scavenging occur on federal lands. Environmentalists don’t talk much about those encroachments.
The environmental industry has, however, talked a lot about access roads for forest managers, and industry activists don’t want roads built or maintained. Ironically old logging roads in various states of disrepair still exist in many forested areas.
Red State blogger Aaron Gardner explained the debate about one of President Bill Clinton’s final actions:
The so-called “roadless rule,” which was first implemented in 2001 by President Clinton shortly before he left office, restricts and in many cases prohibits local and federal officials from building and maintaining roads that allow firefighters to clear out growth that could instantly become tinder for a new fire.
I’ve written several columns in hopes of getting some attention for this matter, mainly out of concern for people who live near these forests and are subject to bureaucratic whims. The Obama administration and Democrats in general align with extremists on environmental policy.
By the end of June more than 30,000 people had been displaced by the Colorado Springs wildfire. Authorities have been investigating the fire, but the flames have hampered their efforts.
There’s no way to tell whether preventive measures would have kept the Colorado fire from displacing 30,000 human beings. However, as federal officials like Dept. of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano expound about climate change, you’d think they’d be smart enough to take a hard look at how the federal government manages land owned by the U.S. people, not just the environmental industry.
Colorado isn’t the only state that has struggled with forestry practice-related issues. In Tombstone, Ariz., the town’s efforts to rebuild a vital water pipeline have been mired down in disputes over the use of equipment on federal forestland.
Does the human species matter to the environmental industry and federal bureaucrats?
Freshman congressman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has attempted to get Congress to look into the issue. Democrats assailed him. One of the requests Gardner made was for removal of trees killed by bark beetles. Diseased and dead trees provide ready fuel for fires. Gardner also stressed the need for a long range management plan.
Gardner sent a letter to President Barack Obama’s secretary of Agriculture:
“If we do not move ahead, there will be a higher risk of fires spreading rapidly because of bark beetle infested forests.”
In the aftermath of the fires, flooding emerged as a concern. Another concern is potential contamination of a major water reservoir.
If preventive measures can be taken, they should be. Federal lands belong to all Americans, not just to the environmental industry.--(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 12, 2012)
Related at The US Report