Fires Everywhere-What is THE cause (Political) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have a question about the fires we are seeing. I know what is being said about it being dry, lightning strikes, etc.. But does anyone have any thoughts or factual information on what else may be the cause? I am not suggesting anything, just wondering. I have heard from those who would know better than I, about land the gov't has taken over and how it has been managed (ie: no human involvment)- and how this is actually bringing about negative consequences. I do not know much about "Land Management/Forestry" so would like to hear from those that do. Thanks! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 12, 2000


I guess some people belive there is a conspirecy behind everything!

-- Mark (, August 12, 2000.

No, I am not suggesting a conspiracy. Altho, with this administration, anything is possible. I was thinking more on the lines of mismanagement-ie:ineptitude. Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 12, 2000.

Hi Wendy, I can't remember where you live! Sorry. But out here in the West, we get ferocious summer storms. For example, in the Rockies, you can pretty much bet on thunder and lightning several times a week this time of year,sometimes daily (i.e.: Estes Park, CO)(at least my observation from numerous visits there). Also,in the desert southwest, there is a season called monsoon which has rains and thunder and lightening frequently during this time of year. Even up here in the Cascades, we get lightening storms every so often. So the weather is usually "predictable", and typically the lightening strikes, and the number of those that could cause fires is pretty much a statistic. That said, the fact that the weather for spring has been unusually dry makes for a hellish fire season for all, despite anticipation and planning to the contrary. Some fires are just going to remain out of control.

What you might be thinking of were some of the earlier fires (New Mexico) that were created from "controlled burns" that got out of hand, one of which burned over the top of Los Alamos, where the nuke research is going on. Understandably, some people have asked questions about what happened there. However, these current fires are totally the act of God and are out of anyone's control, except via intercessionary prayer and applied fire fighting science. Doesn't seem like questionable origins.

-- sheepish (, August 12, 2000.

When dead trees and lots of underbrush are allowed to remain in the forest a forest fire WILL happen..Before people lived here the fires were not a problem,they just burned till winter put them out.But now people live near the forest..With out managment, disasters happen..People that think they are SAVING the forest by not touching them are really doing the opposite. They are being set up for complete distruction.I wonder how many Earth Firsters are on the fire lines? I would guess zero..Doris in Idaho

-- Doris Richards (, August 12, 2000.

As stated over and over, I live in NE Texas. We get very dry and very hot each summer. We also have thunderstorms that "foriegners" from other parts of the country claim they've never seen anything like--lots of lightening and clouds that flow through the sky like water being suddenly poured across a floor. We have lots of cloud to ground lightening. We DO NOT have fires started by the lightening, at least not the kinds that spread, although at this time of year we get little or no rain from the thunderstorms. The difference is that although we have a lot of trees and woods, the wooded areas are separated by meadows. The fires can be controlled more easily. The large fires we have here are caused by careless burning, not nature.

And for the record, I don't think the fires in and near forest areas around the country are deliberate. I think they are the result of well-intentioned, misguided management.

-- Green (, August 12, 2000.

I read in the paper yesterday that all the fires is bringing "wild landscaping" to the attention of the BLM. They are considering reforesting the burn outs with a more fire resistant mix of native growth. It may be interfering with nature, however alternative when dealing with this large a burn would be a lot worse. I hope BLM is successful with the plans they are launching.

-- Jay Blair (, August 12, 2000.

Green, I totally don't even get what you are saying. Please explain how lightning strikes in forested areas that have a lot of dry underbrush around them are the results of misguided management? Are you saying that letting the brush grow up under the trees is the reason? Have you ever been to any of the western states? Thanks.

-- sheepish (, August 12, 2000.

Green, just to add....the forests out here are often in very remote, if not inaccessible areas....often very steep and mountainous. Even if it made sense to keep the brush and slash cleared, it would be overwhelmingly expensive. Waiting for your reply. Thanks. p.s. I am not a fan of the Forest Circus, and I know there is mismanagement....still don't understand your post.

-- sheepish (, August 12, 2000.

here i go again replying to sheepish. expensive to keep the brush down no way at least the way it used to be done. sheep and cattle ranchers paid to graze their livestock on national forest lands so the government got paid to have the underbrush taken out. now i will agree that overgrazing is wrong but with proper livestock management it does help the forest. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, August 12, 2000.

Sorry if my post wasnt clear enough. I think my question should have been - has the way the gov't "managed" the national parks/Heritage Sites, etc... contributed to the out of control fires raging? Doris, Green & gail hit upon that aspect of the fires. I was/am curious about the effects of non-human involvement. Like gail brought up the grazing issue and how that effects the undergrowth which in turn effects a fire's capacity to burn so "out of control". And things like logging, selective cutting of trees to where a lot of old, dried and dead trees are removed, therefore that would be less "fuel" for fires. And I believe many areas are prohibited from doing that anymore. As I said, this is an area I do not know much about. Am not sure when some of these "practices" of "land management" came about. Doris said something about "saving the forest's" and how it might actually cause just the opposite. Sorry for my "fuzziness", am just trying to get information to better understand why we are seeing so much of this recently. Yes, sheepish, thanks, I do remember the "controlled burn" at Los Alamos, tho not very controlled. LOL. Anyway, thanks! God Bless! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 13, 2000.

Sheepish, yes, I have actually been out of Texas and out farther west. I've been to New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California, as well as states farther north and east. Yes, there are some very remote lands in the west. The fact is that the Forest Service has stopped grazing on their lands because grazing was "harming" the environment. Yes, there was overgrazing. The Forest Service over reacted by stopping ALL grazing as they have attempted to do in the much lower mountains of Oklahoma and all their other lands. The Forest Service has also adopted the idea that they shouldn't maintain most of their roads so us contaminating people won't be so likely to use the forests. Allowing the roads to become impassable is surely one of the stupidest things they could ever do. I also think that instead of totally replanting the areas that are burned they should leave buffer strips or fire lanes between larger areas of forest. This would give areas for wildlife to graze and hunt as well as provide places where the Forest Service might at least have a prayer of stopping the fires. It is much easier to stop a grass fire than a forest fire. As for the strong suggestion that I don't even know what underbrush is, the landowner east of me (as in 20 feet east of the house) has 80 acres of plantation pines that didn't regrow well after the last cutting, so what he actually has is 80 acres that has so much undergrowth that we literally have to get down and crawl through the coyote runs to get through it. Needless to say, we don't go in there often. Lightning strikes in those woods every time a thunderstorm goes through.

-- Green (, August 13, 2000.

Lightening strikes can cause fires as I watched them happen a couple of nights ago. A bolt would hit and later smoke and flames where the bolt hit.

I can only speak for what is occurring in my area and it is true that some of the fires are in extremely rugged areas that are accessible only by foot or helicopter. In other areas however the fires are in locations that would be accessible and controllable, but thanks to envirolmentalists there has been no logging or road building permitted for years now. The woods are full of downed and dead trees (that will ignite in seconds)that have not been removed because all logging operations and road building has been stopped. Can't risk distrubing the grizzly bears or other animals habitat but it's ok to burn them out! A few years ago a windstorm went through and tremendous amounts of old growth trees blew down. Salvage operations were instituted to remove some of it and enviromental groups immediatly filed appeals because it was in "wilderness" areas. The trees were not salvaged, appeals are still pending, and now it is burning. Guess the enviromental groups would rather have millions of board feet of lumber go to waste and the the areas burn rather than it be disturbed by humans.

-- Marci (, August 13, 2000.

Green, my friend, I didn't mean to strongly suggest that you don't know about underbrush. My sincere apologies to you. I just know that sometimes folks that have never been west of the 100th meridian don't understand the topology out here. I mistakenly thought you were blaming the fires on mismanagement, as opposed to saying that they were out of control, due to mismanagement. The first case didn't make sense to me, and the second, I understand. Thanks for posting.

Besides environmental reasons, there's also economic ones. Grazing cattle and sheep in some areas works, but there's a lot of places where better logging management might have made things better. Still, it would be hard, I think, to present a case to the rest of the nation to vote for tax allocation for the national forests. From what I have read (?), there's not much money in the coffers for such. Do you think folks would be inclined to think such support was socialistic? Maybe if they see what's happening out here, perhaps they would be supportive. Of course, more money doesn't always translate into sound management, does it? We certainly know that to be the case!

Off my high horse for today, and apologies...I'll try to behave myself.

-- sheepish (, August 13, 2000.

Apology accepted and I apologize in return. My irritability factor is getting higher by the moment these days. People in the north get cabin fever in late winter. People in the south get something similar in late summer. Some say it is caused by the heat, some think it is too much sunlight and not enough rain. I think it's both. And then they have to go and start school when everyone is already irritable and now I have to deal with the battle of the public school system! My nerves are shot. Sorry.

-- Green (, August 13, 2000.

Fires out west are a natural phenomenom. Before white men arrived, the fires started and burnt themselves out. Fire climax ecosystems other words, there were lots of big trees, but not very many per acre. Some areas of the West still have natural park- like openings, because fires haven't been completely eliminated.

When Smokey the Bear was created, we saw the end of natural forests. Burning was wasteful. Smokey caused more problems than he eliminated. The current fire problems are just Nature trying to correct the former mistakes.

I worked for the Forest Service one summer in between jobs with the National Park Service. I was on a prescribed natural fire crew. We started fires, when wind, humidity, temp, etc was just right. We burned up all the 'little sticks' and other fuel on the forest floor. Done right, no 'big' trees were harmed. After eliminating the excess fuel that had built up, because of previous Smokey the Bear propaganda (putting out all of those evil fires), the forest was allowed to burn if Nature 'lit the match', ie, lightning. After cleared of the unnatural buildup, there was little danger of catastrophic fires.

The Los Alamos fires were badly managed. The FMO (fire management officer) made career ending mistakes. And he paid.

On grazing, I don't know about Oklahoma, but very few if any grazing leases have been terminated out west. Reductions, sure, but elimination? Don't get me wrong, I eat beef, love the stuff. BUT, show me a cow or sheep that eat wood. Most of the fuel feeding western fires ain't edible forage, it's fallen limbs from dog hair stands of lodgepole pine. BTW, I believe lodgepole pine propagates by fire opening the seed cones releasing the seeds.

And another BTW, don't feel sorry for the firefighters, without the fires, they'd be making regular wages. I speak from experience. On Fire, you make overtime, per diem, free meals, lodging, etc. All firefighters do it cause they 'want' to, and they make excellent money. If I didn't have a farm full of critters, I'd be out there right now.

-- phil briggs (, August 13, 2000.

Wendy, Fires happen to these forests because that's how God intended it to work. Fire is just the way forests periodically cleanse themselves. With the dry years we've encountered over the last 5 years or so, it doesn't take a lot to get something going. Several people mentioned the Forestry Service(circus)management. Misguided yes. A lot of well intentioned "tree lovers" put pressure on the Govt. to protect the old growth forests by limiting human impact of any kind. Grazing, periodic burns, mining, etc aren't allowed. Lots of debris gets built up in a forest. Out west where the normal rainfall is significantly less than say, here in IN. That debris doesn't break down to fast. It only becomes dry. We have a large national/state forest area around here, and there has been a very hot debate about harvesting some of the older trees, and thinning things out for fire prevention purposes (and cash I'm sure). Several eco groups have begun spiking trees to prevent them being cropped. We've had real decent rain here this year. Last year there were several fires that came close to getting out of hand. Incidentally, IN fish & game wardens discovered a pile of spikes in one area around Bloomington a few monthes back. Investigation found I think it was 35 or more trees spiked. Well they cut them down right away so no one would get hurt if they accidently got sent to a mill. So much for saving the forest via eco terrorism. The trees became firewood instead of saw logs.

-- John in S. IN (, August 15, 2000.

John, I could be wrong (often am) but from the maps I have seen where the fires are out west, it doesn't look like old growth areas to me. Probably second or third cut forests. I didn't think there was that much left of old growth around. (Someone please enlighten me). In WA state, if you fly over the forests, it's a massive checkerboard of clearcut and regrowth...hardly any old trees left. I don't know too much about all of this, but my husband has his bs in forestry, and works in lumber..has a lot of friends who still work in the woods (what's left). Guess I get some perspective from that, but I would appreciate learning more. As to the firefighters making money, I don't worry about them as much as I do the people who are being burned off their land.

-- sheepish (, August 15, 2000.

Wild fires here, are not a given, not for the past 31 years I have lived here. Yet for the past three years, we have lived with it. Smoke in the neighborhoods. Is is not a normal natural, in this space. Don't think it is the fault of any human, (they have done so well, thus far". Think it may be the actions of something more strong. Just my thought, through life's experience.

-- WILD FIRES (intropical@in', August 15, 2000.

For anyone in the local area, or for anyone who has software for audio, KUOW out of Seattle (NPR affiliate) is having a 2 hour special, with experts and with listener call-ins, on forest fire and management/prevention. Just this topic we have been discussing. It's at 94.9 FM. I hope to listen to it, and take a few notes. FWIW

-- sheepish (, August 16, 2000.

That would be at 9:00 a.m. PDT today Aug 16. Sheesh. Not awake at all yet....

-- sheepish (, August 16, 2000.

Heres what I hope will be a brief recap of some of the salient points from this mornings discussion on the radio (see above post). This isnt a transcript; just stuff I wrote down, subject to my understanding and without (I hope, because I tried) personal biases. Maybe some of this will prove helpful. I was kind of disappointed that there wasnt more economic discussion, since the demand for all this lumber (home and abroad) has led to a lot of over-forestation and subsequent over-harvesting, IMO.


National Forests have tree densities from 10-100 times greater than what would naturally exist. Tree diameters are smaller and stands are denser than what was cut 10-15 years ago. There are approximately 191 million acres of National Forestof that, some 40 million acres are considered to be at higher risk for forest fires. Big burns seem to work on a 3-4 year cycle. (This year its Idaho, Montana; next year possibly California). The legacy for this is long term, from policies started years ago, i.e.: 1930s. The current administration has been working on policy and funding programs, with the NFS defining a plan in April 1999. Funding and work with Congress has been slow since that time. There has been an awareness of a need for a comprehensive planning process for around 10 years.

It was generally agreed by the panel (Jim Agee, Univ. of Wash Forest Ecology Prof), Jim Riley (Intermountain Forestry Association rep) and Laurie Parrett (Deputy Director at National Forest Service (Aviation and Fire) Pac NW) (AND NOT SURE OF SPELLING OF NAMES) that forestry management is a highly complex issue developed over decades, which will in fact take decades to fix. It was also pointed out that most forestry science is manageable on a fairly local level, like 10-acre parcels. How can policy be decided for 1,000-10,000 acre areas? It is challenging.

Some complications include: Landowners having private acreage within the general forest boundaries. These are often private timber companies, which may have their own management policies, good or bad. There is also mixed use in National Forests, including recreation, etc. Communities next to forests are impacted by policies and therefore the public needs to buy off on scenarios such as controlled burns (air pollution, etc.) Also, the smoke of controlled burns bothers vacation homeowners.

One person who called in said that a thorough analysis of recent fires would indicate that only 19% of the acres currently burning are actually national forest. He said that instead, chaparral, grass, recent clear cuts, and industrial timberlands were burning. A panelist challenged this by saying that currently most fires are in Idaho and Montana wilderness areas.

Suggested possible preventative measures were discussed. First and foremost, a management process to more effectively mimic nature needs to evolve. This would require ecosystem restoration, to return the forests to less dense stands, for example. Then more techniques such as controlled burns would be better able to be initiated and managed in some areas. There needs to be a solution as to how to utilize mechanical processes to incorporate commercial thinning, so that low intensity fires can be done later with less risk of combustibles at the ground level. Thinning is not a popular idea, and would be an education issue to get public support. Hand piling, as well as mechanical crushing to reduce hazardous fuels, are some options. There was a comment about having the Forest Service mark trees to take down and then sell permits to civilians to harvest. However, the fact that most roads service areas that are 600-800 from the roads will preclude many from skidding logs to their pickup trucks at that distance.

Roads are a big item for the Forest Service. They no longer need such a large network of roads, and currently there are too many roads for them to afford to maintain. Right now, there is a big emphasis on road management within the Forest Service.

Lastly, there were comments regarding how the public has many trust issues with the current processes, and institutions. It will take some dialog to find out what the public is willing to tolerate, and some education of the public to convince them that ecosystem restoration (forests more like they have historically been) followed by controlled burns, etc., balanced with ecological concerns (smoke for example) will in the longer run prove more effective.

-- sheepish (, August 16, 2000.

I have a question for all of you with so many opinions and judgments on the Forest Service and those employed by the Forest Service. Have any of you stood in the midst of a fire trying to save houses and public land that is overgrown because of enviromentalists keeping out logging and grazing? Have you lost friends or loved ones in this line of work or worried that your spouse may not return from defending someone elses house that refused to listen to common sense? Have you heard these people on the televison after 16 firefighters died to save their homes say that they did not do enough? I live in the midst of a state that burns each summer from forest fires. Some are God made and some are man made, yes the FS does need some improvement as all governmet agencies do but just remember before you blame anyone or any agency that there are people involvedjust doing their jobs the best way they can.

-- Suzanne Wilson (, August 16, 2000.

Sheepish, No, I doubt you are wrong about the type of forests (old or not). I still believe that fires just happen. I wouldn't be surprised to see where this is part of a cycle we've not picked up on before. There is so much about this world we don't know anything about yet. We may be impacting on it to some degree w/ the management issue. We seem to measure time in decades or hundreds of years, where thousands may be needed to see trends. Seems that as our population grows so does the scope of our disasters. Help me out here w/ this aspect also, as it relates to a lot of other issues as well. Does the media coverage of these events make it seem so much worse than ever? I get a sense sometimes that maybe things aren't as bad as the news anchors breathlessly make it sound. Does that make sense?

Suzanne, I can't imagine anyone not having the utmost respect for the firefighters themselves. You may be right about them not getting thanked, I'm afraid professionals like fire, police, ems, etc, don't get the respect they deserve sometimes (most times?).

-- John in S. IN (, August 16, 2000.

Suzanne, I have enormous respect for firefighters. Some of my friends work as EMTs and firefighters around here. Their work is tough, scary, and thankless sometimes.

As for the folks at Forest Service, you bet! They are just folks like we are on this forum. They certainly aren't foes or evil beings. You are right, they are just doing their jobs...But is the job right? I guess is the question...

These days we can all benefit from getting more involved. From asking questions....How can we make things better? How can we manage with all the people moving west? How can we protect people from harm, while still respecting their rights to make their own (sometimes dumb) choices? And how can we provide for folks who need housing, while keeping lumber affordable? Do we grow more trees? I myself will keep asking questions; keep looking for answers, and hopefully if more or most of us do, together we can find some solutions and make the world a better, maybe even safer place for all. (Sorry if this is sappy; I probably have been overdosing on political speeches this month!)

-- sheepish (, August 16, 2000.

Thanks for all the info! Sheepish, you must be a natural "student"...good note taking!he-he! Really, tho, thanks for the information! And your point about asking questions and looking at how things are done, are well taken. I have learned a bit from all the responses, especially from those of you who live around/with this. God Bless! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 16, 2000.

Yes Sheepish you are right that we can all do better by being informed and asking questions. I respect that you want to be informed and have a thirst for more knowledge. But, we must also look at all avenues of a does the Forest Service make all the inhabitants of the US happy at the same time? The ranchers have one adgenda....the enviromentalists have a totaly different adgenda and the public thinks that the land totally belongs to them, they should be able to do what ever they want when ever they want. A lot of the forests here have huge amounts of accumilated downfall and debrie from years of not logging(due to the enviromentalists being able to stop timber sales and harvest) this along with the publics fear of fire has created the perfect burning environment. Lodgepole pine does in fact need high heat to release it's seed from the pine cone to propogate. Lodgepole is also not a long lived tree in tree years as say a red wood variety, fire is all part of the natural life cycle in the western forests. This year about half the fires have been natural starts and half have been man made from things like cigaretts, carless discard of charchol briquets to sparks on dry grass from mufflers. A lightening strike can take up to two weeks to develope into a full blown fire. With all the smoke in the air from other fires in the area the aireal detection of these fires can be almost impossiable. Thus a fire in the back country can grow rapidly and be undetected for some time. With this happening and there being several major fires already underway the resources available to FS districts are thin and priorities have to be made. This year it will take rain or snow to douse some of these fires. What does anyone propose that the FS do to make things run better? Contact your Senetors and Congressmen with your suggestions. Write letters and talk to local officials about your concerns and wishes. That is the way to get things changed, be loud and be heard. Look at PETA...gee they get more air time and media attention then I care to think about. Yes firefighters do make decent money when there are fires....but do you know that it is just a seasonal job? That there are no benefits and that when not fighting fires the pay is not much more then McDonalds? Did you know that they are targets for anti government acts of violence? So far this season 6 have lost their lives that I know of. The media seems to keep this fact pretty quiet, I guess it just isn't pertenant information for the public to know. I do appreciate that you have the utmost respect for these men and women, in fact all the men and women that have thankless dangerous jobs should be thanked and appreciated more. I also think that we are each entitled to our own thoughts and opinions that is what makes America so great. I learn even when I talk to or read about someone else's view different from my own. Thank you all for making me look at and think about things in different lights. =)

-- Suzanne Wilson (, August 17, 2000.


I dont necessarily agree with everything this guy says but I thought you would be interested...


Why America is burning Source: Enter Stage Right - A Journal of Modern Conservatism
Published: August 14, 2000 Author: Henry Lamb

Enter Stage Right - A Journal of Modern Conservatism

Why America is burning

By Henry Lamb

The fires that are raging across the west are just the beginning of the consequences of inept environmental management policies that the Clinton/Gore administration has inflicted upon the people of America.

This administration has legitimized and legalized the pseudo- religious earth worship of environmental extremists. These emotion- based, tree-hugging policies can only result in even worse disasters if common sense continues to be ignored in favor of "sustainable" propaganda.

The Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, and other environmental groups, proudly wage their anti- logging campaign, describing chain-saws as murder weapons, and loggers as pawns of corporate resource rapers. The federal government, now manned by former executives of these organizations, dutifully responds by closing forest roads and outlawing timber cutting .

The nightly news reports as much as five million acres destroyed by wildfire. There is no inventory of the toasted wildlife. There is no measure of the tons of pollution released into the atmosphere, or the miles of streams that will be filled with ash and sediment when rain finally falls.

The best defense against forest fires are firebreaks. Roads through the forest serve this purpose, and roads allow firefighters access to the flame. Common sense. So the Clinton/Gore administration adopts a policy of closing forest roads - to the cheers of environmental organizations who prefer to blame the fires on climate change caused by use of fossil fuels. Go figure.

A second defense against forest fires is thinning the growth. Selective harvest of mature and diseased trees keeps the fuel supply at a minimum. Common sense. So the Clinton/Gore administration adopts a policy of non-removal of any trees, even those blown down by storms.

Environmental organizations file law suits by the dozens to prevent any timber harvest by invoking the Endangered Species Act to protect some obscure so-called endangered bug or beetle. It's acceptable, however, if those same bugs and beetles are roasted in a massive barbeque.

Forest fires, though, are not the most serious consequence of this extreme reverence of the earth. The same extremism has prevented exploration and development of oil and coal reserves in the United States. More than half our energy comes from foreign sources. The Clinton/Gore administration reflects the wish of the extreme environmental organizations to eventually ban the use of fossil fuel and force Americans to rely on solar, wind, and other alternative' fuels.

"Force" is the active word here. Technology - in pursuit of free markets - will supply an alternative source of energy when it is advantageous to do so. Extreme environmentalists are unwilling to rely on the marketplace, and are using government to force the market to accept technology that is neither adequate, nor environmentally appropriate.

A drive through the windmill farms East of Oakland, California will convince most people that mile after mile of giant, noisy windmills - through which eagles fear to fly - is far more destructive to the environment than a modern oil well, which can produce far more energy per square foot of land, than windmills or solar panels.

Environmental extremists are lobbying to remove hydro-electric dams on rivers across the country to protect some species of fish. To them, the fish are more important than the humans who depend upon the electricity, or upon the income produced from use of the waterway. Environmental extremists claim that naturally-bred fish are superior to hatchery-bred fish, and club the hatchery-bred fish to death, while claiming that the same species is endangered.

The consequence of this earth-worshiping nonsense will inevitably be an energy shortfall. As bad as the forest fires are, they are nothing when compared with the absence of energy. As bad as high energy prices are, they are nothing when compared with the absence of energy.

If a crash program were launched today to meet the anticipated energy demands of 2020, it is unlikely that the demand could be met. But there is no crash program. Instead, there are policies in place that make it nearly impossible to build a new nuclear generating plant, or to build a new oil refinery, or to even pump oil from known oil reserves. The entire coal industry has been nearly shut down for fear of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But it's acceptable to burn the forests, which releases more carbon dioxide in a single fire than coal burning plants release over many years. Go figure.

Perhaps the worst consequence of this environmental extremism is the growing acceptance of the idea that somehow government knows best, providing, of course, that government is informed by the former executives of environmental extremist organizations. Government is consolidating its power to control, not only land and resource use, but the lives of individuals as well. The opposite side of every new power government assumes, is the loss of freedom for individuals.

The Conservation and Reinvestment Act, heralded by the Clinton/Gore administration and environmental extremists alike, as the most significant conservation legislation since Teddy Roosevelt - represents an incredible loss of freedom for private land owners. Propaganda surrounding the proposed law says that only "willing sellers" will be asked to sell their land to the government. The fact is, however, this administration is well-practiced in making "willing sellers" out of any individual who is targeted. What's called multi- media enforcement of an arsenal of regulatory procedures can - and has - crushed individuals who dare stand between the federal government and its goals.

Environmental extremists have succeeded in transforming America from a nation where common sense informed responsible environmental stewardship into a nation where the color of science is used to camouflage what is actually a form of paganistic earth worship. Environmental extremists have infiltrated our institutions of higher learning, our schools, our government, our churches, and they are succeeding in transforming our nation.

The wildfires that are burning across the country are an early warning of the consequences yet to come if this environmental extremist philosophy continues to shape our public policy.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International


Side note*I live nearly under one of these windmill farms and dont hear anything to complain about. Interestingly enough, a commune of A- 1, top grade, authentic, green team hippies lives over the hill. They tried every trick in the law books to have the windmills banned "due to noise". Then they went around to every newspaper, trying to get the force of public opinion to shut the windmills down (causing people to drive out and stop in front of my property all the time and upon discussion with them I find that the visitor cant hear the windmills either). Now they have brought a suit against the power company for ruining the "bucolic pastorality" of the area. Its kinda funny how they are behind this stuff until it affects them.

-- William in WI (, August 17, 2000.

Suzanne, I agree. I have strong feelings about learning, contacting representatives, participating in local government, etc. Federal is tougher, though, but maybe there's still hope. No secret to anybody who has been reading my posts for the last several months. There are many different perspectives and factions regarding this one issue alone. No wonder the management of it is so complex.But if decision makers don't hear from us, they will assume they can do whatever they want. Sometimes this is terribly misguided.

I personally plead for people to educate themselves, and participate in some form of effecting policy....write to Congress, and the other things you suggest. I get annoyed at those folk who act like victims, and don't do a thing about fixing anything! (I don't see that here much on the Forum, thank God!). The problem with this nation is that we have all sat back on our fat haunches and let "someone else" make our decisions for us. Then we wonder why we don't like what we get. I am not a violent person, and for that reason you won't see me advocating shouldering arms, but if we don't fix it, we can just, well, I won't print it here....

Guess I'm getting pretty wound again. I'm gonna go clean the barn.

-- sheepish (, August 17, 2000.

p.s. ALways handy to have a few environmentalists around to blame.:) These groups, while probably misguided in some senses, are often times reacting out of the same frustration that gets to all of us. I maintain that the reason we are in this forestry mess is more because timber companies and all who grow and sell timber products got all excited by the profits they could get from selling our logs to Japan as well as here. They then beefed up their densities to cover the shortages they harvested. Forgot to pick up their messes when they did. Ooops. But just my observation, living in timber country my whole life, and watching them being clear-cut and replanted like row crops. There's just got to be some kind of balance. Government always seem to overreact, making one lobbying group happy while dissing the rest of us. Speak up folks! Whether you are green, or ranchers, or farmers, or just interested citizens. The timber lobby has all the ears if we don't. Get involved in the decision making process...

-- sheepish (, August 17, 2000.

Wildfires: Some ecologists are yielding to natures fire logic

Source: Associated Press
Published: 8-17-00 Author: JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA

With wildfires raging out of control in 13 Western states, Rex Wahl has seen enough. Like a peace-loving homesteader who finally reaches for his six-shooter, the influential environmentalist has unholstered his chain saw.

Wahl is ready to cut down trees to save the forest.

The executive director of Forest Guardians, an activist group based in Santa Fe, N.M., had long opposed the removal of any tree for profit or for managing nature.

Then he watched helplessly from his yard as a small, planned fire raged out of control at nearby Los Alamos in May. It charred 48,000 acres, destroyed 200 homes and caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.

Wildfires are getting bigger, burning hotter, and the effects are more devastating, Wahl said. Its clear well have to take mechanical steps like thinning before we can use fire to restore these forests to a more natural regime.

As of Thursday, 85 major wildfires were burning from Washington to Texas. More than 4 million acres have been blackened this summer, and eight firefighters have been killed. It is perhaps the worst fire season in the past 50 years, rivaling 1988 and the great Yellowstone blaze.

The wildfires are being blamed in part on a century of conflicting land management policies that researchers say have misunderstood or ignored fires purpose in nature:

 A longtime practice of putting out all fires instead of letting them burn has allowed flammable brush, dead wood and other fuel to accumulate waist-deep in some forests.
 Ranchers have let cattle overgraze meadows that could otherwise make fires burn slow and cool.
 Commercial loggers have removed many large, fire-resistant trees. At the same time, environmental restrictions in many areas have prevented timber companies from thinning out overgrown forests and removing dead wood.
 Some homeowners as well as environmentalists who are worried about endangered species have opposed controlled burns that could remove the brush.

As a result of the devastating wildfires of recent years, however, some environmentalists are rethinking their opposition to cutting trees. Among them is Forest Guardians, which had been one of the most vocal zero-cut groups.

Wahl, a biologist, suggested that old environmental dogmas must be abandoned. He is not embracing clear-cutting. Unlike loggers, he wants to save the big trees that are fire-resistant and readily seed new growth.

Judicious cutting of smaller trees is whats needed, he said.

Other environmental groups have endorsed the concept of forest thinning but have been unable to come to terms with the government on the details.

Im still waiting to see a thinning project where they will take only the trees that are causing the problem, said Sharon Galbreath, a Sierra Club spokeswoman in Flagstaff, Ariz. They want to take large trees, too.

Wahls conversion reflects the crisis facing the Wests sickly forests.

A century ago, before federal agencies adopted a military approach to suppressing firs, healthy conifer forests sprouted 25 to 70 mature trees per acre. Lush meadows filled the gaps.

Little fires swept through the grass and seedlings, but thick bark protected the large trees for hundreds of years. An added bonus: The fires heat melted the resins in fallen cones, releasing their seeds.

Lightning ignited many of these fires. Tree ring records and other sources suggest many fires were set by Indians to flush game and encourage plant regrowth.

Fire is a land management tool that they learned to use well, said Don Despain, an ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Bozeman, Mont.

Todays forests stand in cadaverous contrast. After a century of fire suppression, as many as 850 spindly trees per acre clog the same forests. More than half stand dead, starved for sunlight and strangled by insects that bore into them.

On the ground, overgrazing by cows has compacted the soil and stripped away the green grass. Brush and dead limbs have piled up.

In a dry year, a careless camper, a hot muffler or lightning can spark a catastrophe.

In 1988, the Yellowstone fire was out of control within 20 minutes and burned for four months. Temperatures reached 2,000 degrees, melting steel culverts and glass bottles.

All of those smaller understory trees allow the fire to jump into the crown of the forest, Wahl said. If you get wind, its hard to save any of them.

What happens after a blowup depends on the landscape and the weather.

Twelve summers after the Yellowstone blaze, surveys suggest plant diversity in the burned areas might be 10 times higher than pre-fire estimates.

In other locations, the heat from large wildfires has penetrated nearly a foot into the soil, roasting roots and seeds.

The heat also caramelizes sap and resins into a waxy layer known as hydrophobic soil. Rain beads up and rolls off the blackened surface. Plants cannot sprout, and a single thunderstorm can flush away topsoil that took 2,000 years to accumulate. The sediment, in turn, clogs streams.

After a fire in 1989, Oregons Grande Ronde River  including spawning grounds for the endangered spring Chinook salmon  remained dead for 35 miles until the mid-1990s.

Arizona State University biologist Steven Pyne and others fire recommend fundamental changes in the nations wildfire policy: Mechanically thin forests and remove dead litter. Stop cattle grazing. Tighten zoning and building codes. Combine fire suppression and prescribed burning in a single program.

I dont see many people who like the forests as they exist today, Pyne said. They are not the forests that people want.

On the Net:
National Interagency Fire Center:
Forest Guardians:

-- William in WI (, August 17, 2000.

Thanks William,

Sounds like a lot of us are coming around to understanding forest ecology better! It's good to see some environmental groups getting a grip. What's with the bold print????

-- sheepish (, August 17, 2000.

Seems everyone has some idea of the complexity of wildfire in the west. We have three uncontrolled fires of over 10,000 acres each burning in the county as I type this. One is within sight of my window.

Fact is, the Forest Service could do much better if the politicians let them manage. They are constantly being redirected with forest plans by politicians and challenged in court by enviromental groups.

Most of the private timber holding is managed on a sustaining yeild plan. In other words, mature trees are removed about once every 10 years or so. They thin the trees, allowing the healthiest trees to grow faster. They also control fires.

Public lands have been clearcut for decades. Regrowth is often replanted area left to nature. Result is thick underbrush.

Some areas of the public lands are just too steep for conventional logging. More of this timber is being harvested by helicopters. That is a very clean, low inpact harvest, but it is more expensive that conventional logging.

Some lands, generally public lands, are actually to fragile to be logged. I have seen large, scattered ponderose pine growing on steep hillsides of decomposed granite. You could see the footprints of hunters that had gone down those hillsides several years before. That mountain would take centuries to regrow trees.

I believe good forest management is a multiuse concept with a good dose of common sense. Short term gains do more damage to the forests than all the fires for the last 25 years.

-- Max Pelham (, August 18, 2000.

Wow! Very, very interesting. Thank You again. This was more along the lines of what I had heard, and was interested in understanding... the effects of these "political"/forest managment decisions. God Bless! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 18, 2000.


Sorry, I left the bold on...

I will learn to proofread before I post. I will learn to proofread before I post. I will learn to proofread before I post. I will learn to proofread before I post. ...

-- William in WI (, August 18, 2000.

I just finished reading Mr. Lamb's treatise and there are so many errors of fact I don't know where to start. Don't have time to rebut all: don't even have time to read the rest of the responses right now. Just 2 thoughts. We'd better all learn to revere the earth because it's the only one we've got. And his whine that the coal industry can't operate because of the "carbon dioxide" is pathetic. Try sulphuric acid.

-- Peg (NW WI) (, August 18, 2000.

The subject of the fires in the Montana area (which are expected to burn until September/October) is 'burning' up the air waves here. Two causes are talked about by those involved: one has been mentioned here. The environmentalists who have prevented logging ~ the hot spots caused by not cutting trees. Two, the oil well fire fighters, who know how to put out these hot fires, offered to go in at the beginning to put the fires out and they were rejected. They were told to let the fires burn. What a country we live in! The upcoming presidential election is a no brainer for me. There's only one spot on the ballot for me.

-- ~Rogo (, August 25, 2000.

Rogo, what are the reasons being given for declining the offer of help from the oil well fire fighters? And who made that decision? Thanks. God Bless! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 30, 2000.

Wazzzaaaapppp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fire rockes

-- sam walters (, May 12, 2001.

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