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Governors to tackle wildfire issues
Missoulian ^ | 6-16-2003 | SHERRY DEVLIN

Posted on 06/17/2003 2:45:40 PM PDT by EBUCK

"And now, let the wild rumpus start."

- Max, the boy-king,

in "Where the Wild Things Are"

In the summer of 2000, the call came from Montana.

"Help!"

Wildfires blackened entire watersheds in the Bitterroot Valley. Day turned to night in Darby and Missoula, so thick was the smoke. Subdivisions outside the state capital were evacuated; homes burned to their foundations.

Congress responded with the National Fire Plan, a $1 billion effort to both improve the nation's wildland firefighting capability and reduce the danger of future fires.

Pretty soon, though, most everyone outside of Montana had forgotten the fires of 2000.

Then came the summer of 2002. This time, the calls for help came from Colorado, Oregon, Arizona and New Mexico. This time, millions of people in Denver and Phoenix looked up and saw ash falling from the sky.

"It was one thing when Missoula was choking back in 2000, but once smoke started pouring into Denver and Phoenix, that really got people's attention," said Todd O'Hair, natural resource policy adviser to Montana Gov. Judy Martz. "Overwhelmingly, people have said that what they saw last summer was unacceptable."

Which is why there will be standing room only this week when the Western Governors' Association comes to Missoula for a Forest Health Summit. Nearly 400 people have paid the $150 registration fee; dozens more hope to, if organizers can squeeze more seats into the meeting room.

"Now all these other states have smelled the smoke and felt the effects of these horrendous fires," Martz said in a telephone interview last week. "Everyone knows the problem. Now we've got to find some solutions that we can all agree upon. We all have to come to the table and give up something, because the forests have already given up more than anything."

As chairwoman of the Western Governors' Association, Martz made forest health and the growing wildfire danger her top priority. At this week's summit, she'll be joined by another governor - Arizona's newly elected Gov. Janet Napolitano - who shares that sense of urgency.

"Last summer was a horrible example of what can happen if we don't address the forest health issue," said Lori Faeth, Napolitano's policy adviser for natural resources. "Unfortunately, it provided an opportunity for Arizona to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. We were blessed in that we didn't lose a single life, and for that we are thankful. But now something needs to happen so we can protect our forests."

In one fire alone, Arizona lost 460,000 acres of timber, Faeth said. Now 800,000 acres are infested with bark beetles. Napolitano has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency assistance funds. FEMA's reply: "Call us when something's on fire."

"Our message is that the emergency is already here. We've already got a disaster," Faeth said. "The forest health crisis is every bit as disastrous as when a tornado rips through a Southern state. It's the same level of emergency. Lives are at risk."

A Democrat, Napolitano will begin work at this week's summit as the new co-lead governor on the wildfire and forest health issue. She'll join Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican, in that effort.

Both Idaho and Arizona have adopted statewide forest health and wildfire preparedness plans, and are at work assessing forests and designing projects. In Arizona, the problem isn't in gaining approval for forest-thinning projects, but in finding the money needed for implementation, Faeth said.

"We have at least 50,000 acres in the wildland-urban interface where we've got approval for fuel reduction, but no money allocated for implementation," she said. "It's very frustrating. It will cost a lot less to take these preventive measures than it would to pay for the aftermath of a fire or to lose a life."

Arizona, New Mexico and southern Colorado also have lost the infrastructure needed to implement fuel-reduction projects, O'Hair said. They have no sawmills, or too few to handle the expected volume of timber. Everything they cut must be shipped out of state.

On Wednesday, the governors will tour several successful forest management projects in western Montana - at Lubrecht Experimental Forest, the Big Larch Campground and in the upper Clearwater drainage. On Thursday, they'll turn to talk of specific problems and possible solutions.

Along the way, they'll get an earful from the timber industry, environmentalists, federal land managers, community leaders and wildland firefighters. For months, there have been rumors of possible civil disobedience by radical environmental groups. At the least, there'll be dueling press conferences and field trips.

On Monday night, the Sierra Club and the University of Montana's Bolle Center for People and Forests will sponsor a panel discussion on how best to protect communities from wildfire, featuring a scientist from the Forest Service's Fire Science Lab in Missoula; the mayor of Roslyn, Wash.; a fire marshal from Kittitas County, Wash.; and the director of a forest restoration project in Oregon.

"I certainly don't think there is a forest health crisis," said Mike Bader, an environmental consultant working for the Sierra Club on the wildfire issue. "Our concern is that people are using the threat of wildfire to justify logging the backcountry. There's this broad, one-size-fits-all approach that way overreaches the truth."

The Sierra Club's fear is that the Governors' Association summit will be used as a platform by the Bush administration to push a forest management agenda that goes too far, Bader said. "The administration's emphasis is on waiving environmental safeguards and ramping up what is really just logging - simple, old-fashioned logging."

On Tuesday, the Native Forest Network and Friends of the Bitterroot will sponsor a field trip for media in town for the governors' summit to the Bitterroot National Forest - for what they hope will be an antidote to the successful project summit-goers will see Wednesday on the Lolo National Forest.

"Our field trip will clearly show that logging on the Bitterroot is systematically targeting the largest, most commercially valuable trees, while leaving the smallest trees and logging slash scattered on the forest floor," said the Native Forest Network's Matthew Koehler. "They are actually increasing the fire risk."

Missoula's diversity of loggers, environmentalists, scientists and government agencies was actually the reason why Martz chose to host the forest health summit, O'Hair said. "Missoula has it all. This is where the debate is, so this is where we wanted to be."

"There is a level of rhetoric, though, that is too high," he added. "Our goal will be to lower the noise a few notches. You can talk it to death, you can throw stones at each other, but you'll still have a problem at the end of the day.

"We want to end the week with a few solutions. We want people to leave feeling like they've learned something or that they better understand where their adversaries are coming from. The discussion could get pretty spirited, but that's good if we all walk away educated."

If you're interested

The Sierra Club and the University of Montana's Bolle Center for People and Forests will host a panel discussion, "Close to Home: Protecting Communities from Wildfire," at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn Parkside in Missoula. The program is free and open to the public.

Featured speakers include Jack Cohen, research physical scientist, Forest Service Fire Science Lab, Missoula; Ron Wakimoto, fire ecologist, UM; David Gerth, mayor, Roslyn, Wash.; Derald Gaidos, fire marshal, Kittitas County, Wash.; and Oshana Catranides, executive director, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Ashland, Ore.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: enviralists; environment; forestfire; gop; governors; wildfire
Here we go.

In one fire alone, Arizona lost 460,000 acres of timber, Faeth said. Now 800,000 acres are infested with bark beetles. Napolitano has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency assistance funds. FEMA's reply: "Call us when something's on fire."

Ya know, I seem to remember a rare breed of person especially suited to the task of forest clean-up....they were called LOGGERS you friggin dolt!

1 posted on 06/17/2003 2:45:40 PM PDT by EBUCK
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To: EBUCK; calawah98; madfly; Grampa Dave; brityank; Trailer Trash; hammerdown; dixiechick2000; ...
Ping-a-ling
2 posted on 06/17/2003 2:46:15 PM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: EBUCK
a rare breed of person especially suited to the task of forest clean-up....they were called LOGGERS you friggin dolt!

ROFL!!!...

But, seriously...When it comes to commercial timberland, I suppose loggers are the primary custodians of the forests. We just returned from a vacation to Yellowstone. There is still evidence of the massive fires that swept through about 2/3 of the park in 1988 -- fallen/burnt logs everywhere, but also the scarred land is littered with new pine trees, measuring any where from 6- to-10-feet high. What we were told there was that after the fire, biologists found that the diversity of plant and animal life in the burned-forest increases 3-fold. Fires add nutrients to the soil. It also clears out a forest and permits other kinds of trees to take root their (prior to the fire, Yellowstone was dominated by Lodgepoll Pines -- boring monotony of Lodgepoll Pines; now other trees have taken root). So the biologists are concluding that while man-made structures in the parks need to be protected from fire, the forest itself is benefitted by an occasional "cleansing" firestorm.

3 posted on 06/17/2003 2:53:59 PM PDT by My2Cents ("Well....there you go again.")
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To: My2Cents
Fire isn't the devil and does serve a purpose but the kinds of fires we are getting are no where near natural.

And sure, we will get increased bio-diversity afterwards, when the weeds take over.

Besides, going from boring to not-so-boring, isn't good policy in my book.
4 posted on 06/17/2003 3:17:04 PM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: EBUCK
Thanks for the ping.
5 posted on 06/17/2003 4:04:57 PM PDT by sistergoldenhair (Don't be a sheep. People hate sheep. They eat sheep.)
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To: My2Cents
What you were told by the biologists was pure spin. Had they logged Yellowstone first, and then had their fire, they could have had the same improvements without losing all that topsoil into the lake or filling so many creeks with mud.

Now they'll let those young trees overpopulate and do it again. All to cover their sorry butts.
6 posted on 06/17/2003 4:19:19 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (California: Where government is pornography, every day!)
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To: EBUCK
Fire up the chainsaws and let the good times roll!
7 posted on 06/17/2003 4:40:12 PM PDT by blackie
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To: EBUCK
I'm hurt! Where was my ping? Sheesh.
8 posted on 06/17/2003 4:45:32 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: EBUCK; marsh2; dixiechick2000; Mama_Bear; doug from upland; WolfsView; Issaquahking; amom; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.

Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.

9 posted on 06/17/2003 4:47:43 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: EBUCK
Thanks for the find and the ping!
10 posted on 06/17/2003 5:23:13 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Support The Brave Iranians as they bring about a needed regime change!)
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To: EBUCK; farmfriend
Humboldt County had two wildland fires this weekend. CDF and the USFS handled them in good order but soon the "firebugs" will be active on the Hoopa Reservation. Over two hundred last year most small because they were set in previous areas but a couple got into unburned lands and went to several hundred acres.
11 posted on 06/17/2003 5:41:07 PM PDT by tubebender (FReepin Awesome...)
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To: Carry_Okie; farmfriend
The Bottom line from the environmentalists will be; fire is a natural process let it burn. Their main objection to logging is that it increases consumption, furthering economic growth. They will mask that point with lots of talk about sustainability, eco-tourism, and the rest of the guano the spew; but the bottom line is it creates private sector jobs, that is an environmental sin.

What needs to happen is, get enough conservatives to the meeting so as we outnumber the greens. The greens use conferences like thin a propaganda tool. Isn't it about time we took that tool away from them?
12 posted on 06/17/2003 6:00:27 PM PDT by nwconservative
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To: nwconservative
What needs to happen is, get enough conservatives to the meeting so as we outnumber the greens.

You and I need to talk.

13 posted on 06/17/2003 6:16:29 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: farmfriend
BTTT!!!!!!
14 posted on 06/18/2003 3:04:59 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: EBUCK
BTTT!!!!
15 posted on 06/18/2003 3:05:33 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Carry_Okie
The concept of "management" in the National Parks is to let nature take its course. I kind of like that concept.
16 posted on 06/18/2003 8:48:21 AM PDT by My2Cents ("Well....there you go again.")
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To: farmfriend
Yer not on my list????? Sorry ff, I'll get right on that!!
17 posted on 06/18/2003 9:15:05 AM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: My2Cents
The concept of "management" in the National Parks is to let nature take its course. I kind of like that concept.

No, the concept of National Parks it to allow the Fed to hold land as collateral against the national debt. Everything else is just gravy.

18 posted on 06/18/2003 9:19:57 AM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: EBUCK
You're perspective is too cynical to be compelling.
19 posted on 06/18/2003 9:37:42 AM PDT by My2Cents ("Well....there you go again.")
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To: My2Cents
The concept of "management" in the National Parks is to let nature take its course. I kind of like that concept.

It's a nice concept (and is certainly popular), but it doesn't work. People do love to enjoy things for which they feel no accountability, however, you need to learn more about the reality of their condition and history before you conclude that laissez faire is a rational plan. Nature needs care and maintenance, especially when the boundary conditions have changed.

I've been doing habitat managent and restoration for over fourteen years. It's both expensive and physically and intellectually demanding work. A healthy habitat doesn't come for free.

20 posted on 06/18/2003 9:55:15 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.)
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To: EBUCK
The Sierra Club's fear is that the Governors' Association summit will be used as a platform by the Bush administration to push a forest management agenda that goes too far, Bader said. "The administration's emphasis is on waiving environmental safeguards and ramping up what is really just logging - simple, old-fashioned logging."

One can only hope. As long as they replace the trees...

21 posted on 06/18/2003 11:26:24 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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To: EBUCK
"Our field trip will clearly show that logging on the Bitterroot is systematically targeting the largest, most commercially valuable trees, while leaving the smallest trees and logging slash scattered on the forest floor," said the Native Forest Network's Matthew Koehler. "They are actually increasing the fire risk."

Uh-oh. That doesn't sound too good. Why can't they clear out the other stuff and sell it to paper manufacturers?

22 posted on 06/18/2003 11:29:02 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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To: EBUCK
Fire isn't the devil and does serve a purpose but the kinds of fires we are getting are no where near natural.

Oh, they're natural, all right. All-too-natural. My guess is that they're what occurred before man settled the area...

23 posted on 06/18/2003 11:31:07 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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To: My2Cents
The concept of "management" in the National Parks is to let nature take its course. I kind of like that concept.

And what will you do when one of the resulting wildfires leaves a national park and burns part of a city?

24 posted on 06/18/2003 11:34:01 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
What city? I've visited about a dozen national parks, and I don't recall any cities even close to them. I suppose West Yellowtone, Montana, is the closest I've seen.

The 1988 wildfires in Yellowstone burned about half the acreage. Interestingly, they started outside the park. The combination of drought and some 49 small fires started by lightening strikes that merged into major fires, made fighting them virtually impossible. The main heroic fire-fighting efforts were in the attempts to save the Old Faithful Inn, but it was a shift in wind that actually saved the structure. And then it was more the return of rain and an unusually early snowfall in September that finally put the fires out.

25 posted on 06/18/2003 11:56:12 AM PDT by My2Cents ("Well....there you go again.")
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To: My2Cents
If not a city, then the danger always exists that some public place (such as the Old Faithful Inn) or somebody's home could ultimately be burned down by a "natural" fire that started in a forest in which environmental policies have allowed too much dead wood (firewood, for want of a more accurate word) to accumulate. My point is, the country is simply too settled to allow forests to go wild.
26 posted on 06/18/2003 7:58:17 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Years of suppresion have resulted in fuel levels that would never happen in nature, hence, not natural. Either we allow irregular "natural" fires to sweep over the land or we take it upon ourselves to reduce fuel by other means.
27 posted on 06/19/2003 9:23:02 AM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: My2Cents
Here is some info on my perspective...

http://www.ashevilletribune.com/hage1.htm
28 posted on 06/20/2003 9:13:18 AM PDT by EBUCK (FIRE!....rounds downrange! http://www.azfire.org)
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To: EBUCK
That is not a "friggin dolt" ... it is a crawfishin', Greenie-Weenie.

Punctuated evolution is real! Watch for lots of new species of enviro-socialists, 'cruddy 'crats, and other assorted intellectual abortions to be stalking the airwaves and pages of media. All will be spinnin the fires like a top.

Since it looks like America will have lots of fire wood in the future, I wonder if we will have enough heart pine to make 'fat lighter' kindling to start all the wood fires in all those BBQ's and wood stoves?

To avoid the tragedy of a national shortage of kindling, I hereby offer "A Modest Proposal":

To avoid the coming shortage of 'fat lighter' wood for kindling, it is suggested that we split fat 'crats as a substitute. An EPA exemption for the resulting air pollution may be necessary.
29 posted on 06/23/2003 8:44:14 AM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon liberty, it is essential to examine principles - -)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Logically, you make a good point. Consider that such a time was at least before the Quaternary Extinctions which occured some 11,000 years ago.

All of North America was fire managed by the indigenous peoples by that time. The horizon of anthropogenic fire and fire management imposition seems to receed as more research is done.

The Wilderness Act, the root cause of "wilderness management", "natural fire", ad nauseam, is a myth. The damage from such myth-management is probably going to "myth off' a lot of citizens this year. Perhaps enough will re-examine their faulty premises to make a difference. One must hope.
30 posted on 06/23/2003 8:53:55 AM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon liberty, it is essential to examine principles - -)
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