Skip to comments.California Burning
Posted on 10/26/2007 10:07:10 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob
Most of you may be surprised to hear that my columns are also published in the Canyon News, in Los Angeles. That fine paper circulates in Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills. This column is written for people returning to their homes there if their homes are still standing.
Genius consists of not making the same mistake once. By that standard, yall are not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed concerning fires in Southern California. Such fires occur every year, though apparently only once before at this level of destruction.
Why do these fires spread to quickly and threaten so many homes and businesses? Because hundreds of thousands of acres are filled with tinder. When the dry season comes, that material becomes as flammable as what folks would put in a fireplace to get the logs started. Several reporters have said exactly that.
A high school classmate of mine was a carrier pilot for the US Navy. He told me about a day when he was in his plane, below deck and fully armed, when a fire broke out on the deck. He had no escape, except to hope fire crews could get control. They did. But with regard to your homes and businesses, there was too much fire and the crews had no chance to get control, given the winds.
You knew from past experience the situation that was presented. You knew the tinder was there. You knew all it took was a lightning strike, or a downed power line, or sadly, a human mistake or even arson, and the fires would be overwhelming.
So, why werent huge firebreaks created, not merely as wide as an eight-lane highway, but a quarter mile or more? There is vegetation that can hold the soil but is less burnable. There is even the possibility of preventative, controlled burns. Why hasnt anything been done?
The quick answer is that political leaders in California have kept things as they were. No clearing of brush and dead trees that are set-ups for fires. No controlled burns. No wholesale changing of vegetation. Who are these people who maintained the situation that has just caused your communities to go up in smoke?
They are people you support for public office with your money, your names, your reputations. You contributed to your own disaster. Thats sad to say, but its true.
Consider Senator Barbara Boxers comments on the floor of the Senate on Thursday. She was reporting to her colleagues on the situation in your state. She began by saying that worse than the loss of your house would be the loss of your house with no insurance. Then, she attacked a specific company for deciding to abandon writing policies in California. Then she said that the government would have to step in.
Think about that. You know how insurance works. The premiums from movies that dont suffer losses in production, cover the payments for the few losses that do occur. Any producers get a reputation for sloppy work dont get coverage.
Your fire problem would be largely self-solving if politicians got out of the way and let the private sector act in a commercially reasonable way. Insurance companies would say, these particular risks mean higher premiums, or mean no coverage. Homeowners would demand permission to clear land in a safe way. Cities and counties would act to remove the tinder. Risks would go down, insurance would be there, and fires would be greatly reduced.
But at the local, state and national level, most of yall are supporting politicians who have no clue about cause and effect, and therefore push policies that make your situation worse, not better. As you rebuild your communities, you should rebuild your politics as well. Dry politics as well as dry underbrush will continue to threaten your homes, until you make the necessary changes.
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About the Author: John Armor practiced in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu He lives in the 11th District of North Carolina.
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John / Billybob
Thank you John. Spot on!
Just one more reason to not live in CA.
Select timber harvesting for lumber and select timber harvesting of diseased and disfigured trees for firewood (stove wood, if I may say). This accomplished several things.
One provided an income to help cover land taxes.
Thinning to allow for the trees to grow larger and healthier and gain a higher value in the long run.
Prevent the spread of disease.
Reduce the thickness of the forest canopy to decrease the rate of spread of wildfire should that occur.
Reduce the local population of harmful insects to all trees.
Years ago, in the mountains, most forest fires simply burned themselves out because of no equipment and the rough terrain.
Even the old timers would comment every now and then that fire is good for the forest.
After a forest fire, charcoal is increased significantly on the forest floor which leaches into the soil and cause a greater release of nutrients to surviving vegetation and new seedlings.
Living in southern CA is just a higher risk because of such fires that will occur naturally and of course, the earthquakes that happen because of the plate tectonics that work just offshore.
Definitely one of the major factors in this is fire season is the evirowackos policy of keeping California vulnerable to massive damage, loss of homes, and threats to life, when there is a fire during the Santa Ana’s.
Excellent! How I miss living in Brentwood. :-(
Well, finally, someone that gets it.
In rural Texas we love the wildlife as much as anyone, but have found that agriculture and the wild world can coexist.
We clear brush here, but mostly because of needed grass for the cattle. (the rule here is: overgraze and the land comes up trees, clear the trees and the land comes up grass.) All the farmers and ranchers around me clear brush and leave brush and timber on marginal soils to prevent erosion. we’ve never been disappointed. We have more wildlife than the barren hills of southern CA. since we live in a symbiotic relationship with the wild world.
When we plow hundreds of red tailed hawks follow the plows and scarf up inscect larvae, and mice. When we don’t plow, they keep the rabbit population from overrunning the land. No one clears land along the streams and rivers and we’re rewarded with an enormous increase in the Bald eagle population.(for mouse lovers, eagles eat fish) Hundred, if not thousands, of white cattle egrets follow the cattle as they stir up flying inscects as they graze. Our fields are literally covered with magnificent white birds with remarkable wingspans.
People forget that as humans, we’re part of the equasion. At least those who understand that humankind needs to feed itself, and as Americans, feel compassion to feed a starving world.
Perhaps you are making too much sense for the locals to truly understand the simplicity of your argument.
‘Genius consists of not making the same mistake once. By that standard, yall are not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed concerning fires in Southern California. Such fires occur every year, though apparently only once before at this level of destruction. ‘
The bottom line.
The forests almost looked like parks because the underbrush and other burnable materials were kept to a minimum.
I realize we have huge forests compared to theirs but their thinking on those line are far more to the point than the present idiocy that exist here now.
BTW, it isn't just in California that this idiocy is practiced, it is just more noticable right now due to the fact CA has so many people compared to, say, Wyoming. Remember the Yellowstone fire that was left to burn because the greenies wanted "nature to handle it"? That worked out well didn't it?/Sar
"California Burning ... California Burning, On such a winter's day!"
ANY one with half a brain knows that. Protect your laws carefully....freakin' libs are everywhere.
I have a brother who owns a lot of property in Wisconsin, he's a flaming lib and he refuses to clean out his woods...it's more natural and all.
The other brother & I shake our heads in disbelief...
Some quick questions for you - how much does over-development and poor planning by builders/developers have to do with the problem in California? Are local zoning boards responsible?
It is my understanding that oftentimes, big developers are very cozy with zoning officials. Developers want to maximize their profits by building as many houses as possible in an area, even perhaps, disregarding the safety standards.