Skip to comments.COSTLY LAWSUITS PROVIDE KINDLING FOR FOREST BLAZES
Posted on 07/04/2002 7:52:27 AM PDT by madfly
Those catastrophic forest fires burning in Arizona are now 60 percent contained, and Matthew Specht, spokesman for Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, tells us fire crews are hoping for "complete containment by Sunday."
Mr. Flake, a Republican member of the House Resources Committee, will no doubt be paying close attention to future preventative measures to decrease the severity of such fires, including controversial forest thinning.
"Since the beginning of the devastating fires in Colorado and Arizona, many environmentalists finally conceded that some forest thinning is needed to prevent these types of severe fires," notes Mr. Flake. "However, one group, Forest Guardians, suggests thinning the forest using 'solar-powered' chain saws."
Solar-powered chain saws?
"I know my way around the hardware store pretty well," the congressman chuckles, "but I've never seen the solar-powered-chain saw section."
Kirsten Stade, a member of the Forest Guardians, was quoted in a recent East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune article as saying the group supports forest thinning so long as it does not benefit commercial loggers and is done with solar-power chain saws.
"We all know that some radical environmentalists have too much influence on our forest policy," notes Mr. Flake. "But it's clear that some also have too much time on their hands."
John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
I truly hope this idiotic, anti-business line of drivel is spread far and wide across the country to unmask the intent and agenda behind these people.
It makes one want to invent a solar-powered chainsaw, just to spite them... ;0)
Dozens of homes lost, lives lost, habitat burned, timber destroyed and huge watersheds exposed to erosion. Before the fires are even out questions are being raised about blame, cause and cost. I will raise another question-Why are almost all of these catastrophes occurring on federal parks and forests? But you say that it is all happening in the west-similar fires can't happen in the eastern national forests. While I don't like to be the bearer of bad news, the risk of catastrophic fires in the eastern national forests is increasing. Hopefully, we will never see a fire run out of control from Atlanta, Ga. to Morgantown, W.Va., but every year conditions on public parks and forests increase the likelihood of such a fire.
When forests become overmature, overstocked and overburdened with fuels they become serious candidates for insect attack and disease infestation and then they become an even more likely location for a catastrophic wildfire. Today millions of acres of the mountain forests of the Blue Ridge Province approach this overmature, overstocked condition.
Ground zero in the Blue Ridge area might be Smokey Mountain National Park. When the park was formed the 550,000-acre park included some abandoned farmland but most of the area was either cutover forest or 50-year-old immature forest. Today the abandoned farmland supports 70-year-old even aged and overstocked stands of pine, yellow poplar and mixed hardwoods. The cutover forest stands in the park are now 110-115-years old and are experiencing mortality and species change.
Since the formation of the park there has been no timber harvesting and very little prescribed fire used on the area. So the park today is a tinder box of aging and dying trees with massive undestories of fuel waiting for the right combination of drought, wind and a match. Surrounding the park are several million acres of national forest land, including the Pisgah and Nantahela in North Carolina, the Cherokee in Tennessee, the Chatahootchie in Georgia, the Daniel Boone in Kentucky and the Jefferson and George Washington in Virginia.
Following WWII these mountain forests were managed rather intensively as working forests where extraction of timber on a sustained basis was a primary objective but wildlife habitat, watershed management and recreation received considerable attention through multiple use programs. During this period of active harvest and overall intensive management, overmature trees were cut and young forests were started and overstocking was controlled by thinning. Prescribed fire was used on some of the forests to reduce the threat of wildfire. Thus, the likelihood of a catastrophic wildfire was reduced on these managed forests and they in a way provided a buffer for the unmanaged trees in the Smokey Park.
But in the late 1980's the mission of the National Forests in the mountains began to change. Many thousands of acres of forestland was put off limits for timber harvest by designation as wilderness or wild area or designated as an old growth area. Then in the 1990's the allowable timber harvest on the remaining national forest land available for harvest was greatly reduced. For example, in 1986 the Cherokee National Forest offered for sale over 60 million board feet of timber. Recently the Cherokee National Forest offered less than 12 million board feet for sale. So, today the volume of tree growth on all the national forests greatly exceeds the tree harvest and many stands are already dangerously overstocked. And as time passes, more and more stands become overmature.
With a big enough solar panel, you could run an electric chainsaw, though it wouldn't be efficient for large amounts of logging. Scientifically, ordinary gas powered chainsaws owe their energy to solar, which ancient plants captured, transferred to ancient animals, which then left the energy behind as what we call oil.
Jeff Flake's another Arizona politico that will be getting a copy of your book.
Decimated? More like obliterated.
This type of management was known as "Conservation". The environmentalist movement ended the proper use and management of forests in the U.S. and replaced the conservationists in the USFS with the neurotic socialists that are wearing ranger hats now.
I wish I had the graphics capability to do that!
They will not agree of course. But it puts them on the defensive. They have to explain why they use courts and not the democratic process to push their agenda. People do not hold lawyers in high regard as it is, suggesting a reasonable one year hiatus on suits exposes the lawyers and environmentalists as the greedy fanatics they are. It also will draw attention to the fact that the Forest service spends 40% of its budget in court, not in the forests doing the job taxpayers are paying it to do.