Letter to the Editor

Had enough smoke?



Are you tired of waking up to smoke in our valley? Tired of having your eyes water, your nose run, a foul taste in your mouth, and our valley obscured by smoke? Tired of millions of dollars being spent on mega-fires that could have been much less severe and much fewer, had responsible Forest Management been done? Tired of hearing that these fires are just nature’s way of replenishing itself, and that it is good for the resource? Tired of hearing that not much can be (or could have been) done to prevent these conflagrations? Tired of hearing lame excuses? I AM!!

Why is it OK to have public land managers permit this to happen? Such damage could have been largely reduced by responsible forest/range management.

Is it OK to have tens of thousands of acres of forest & range land burnt up, spewing tons upon tons of smoke into the air, and tons and tons of carbon particulate matter into our lakes and streams? Why is it OK to sustain tons and tons of silt and debris into our streams come snow melt next spring? Is it OK to destroy and sterilize thousands of acres of soil via the fire regime? Why is it not OK to clearcut more than 40 acres in a unit, but OK to create tens of thousands of continuous monoculture if it is the result of a naturally occurring phenomenon? If loggers or ranchers, or miners had done even one-tenth of the damage and destruction that these fires are causing, they would have been fined out of existence, and run off our public lands.

The environmental coalition would have us believe that a “hands off” policy is the answer to a healthy ecosystem. And the Forest Service has bought into this fantasy via implementation of “Ecosystem Management.” Man’s activities are not to interfere with “natural occurrences.”

I do not believe that “Ecosystem Management” has been the answer that was promised years ago. “Caring for the land & serving people” was the slogan the USFS used to sell ecosystem management. Before that, it was “Multiple use” that the USFS initiated. And multiple use worked. We did not have the conflagrations, nor the insect infestations to the degree that we now have. Ecosystem management was initiated and worshiped by those who disliked logging, grazing, and mineral extraction on public lands. The “ologists” did not have the foresight to anticipate where the non-management philosophy would lead us. And they wouldn’t listen to reason. Nor do I think they will now, even amid the failed policy.

We need a change. A Change back to responsible management, not wishful thinking. There are way too many dreamers, and not enough do-ers in the outfit. “Caring for the Land & Serving People,” as implemented is a sadistic program. Let us get back to reality. Heaven help us all if we don’t ...

Bob Thompson



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