If we are to believe that high intensity, massive fires are the solution to forest management, then why have the Rodeo-Chediski and Wallow fire areas needed to be re-burned multiple times every year since? When is the forest service going to realize this is not a situation that fire can fix. Not to mention that with this policy there will never be clean air to breathe for generations to come.

The public is told we must “adapt” and sacrifice our health on the alter of burning. Old, young, sick or well, the human body does not “adapt” to toxic smoke pollution. Only an uneducated person would suggest so. Why is the public allowing the forest service to rule over our health, wildlife, tourism and watersheds? Wasn’t protection of the public the reason for the inception of the forest service? The fear mongering that our houses will burn if we don’t sit back and shut up regarding the smoke the USFS is creating has become tiresome.

In this age of modern technology, there is no excuse for not having air tankers stationed to suppress wildfires as they occur. We need logging for fire breaks and thinning of forests using shredders, goats and cattle grazing. Maybe it is time the USFS returned to serving the public.

Kay Honn,

Snowflake

(9) comments

Bob Smith

Kay, where are you getting your information? The Independent has been researching this topic for years and produced the Forest Series which answers your questions; it's easy to find in the upper right hand corner of the WMICentral website - almost everything in your letter is factually incorrect; read the series, educate yourself and join us as we try to fix decades of forest mismanagement.

skall

Someone should draw the following cartoon: Two spotted owls are perched on a branch and in the background a haze of smoke surrounds a community. One wise owl says to the other, “We really should start a campaign to save the humans.”

Recent articles have said that they can’t destroy the hard bark and the trees themselves without burning the same acreage (and trees) over and over and over again. Plus, they admit some of these burns will escape. Think about that number of acres of burning and those risks. Wow, talk about catastrophic.

longtimeresident

High Intensity, massive fires? Do you make up your own facts? I took a drive to see the burns this past weekend in the crazy winds figuring I would see what you described. But no, there were plenty of resources doing their best to get our forests healthy again. Even in the crazy wind, which really wasn't too bad on the forest floor, the fires stayed on the ground. I did not see the fire creep up to the tree tops, no crown fires just lots of people working on a weekend to take advantage of dry undergrowth to bring managed fire back into our forests. Yes there is the potential for a fire to get away but from the dozers, pre positioned water tankers and other resources it seemed to me reasonable precautions were being taken to minimize the risk. I don't like the smoke either but I would rather have these smaller managed fires than another inferno burn through our mountain.

2rusty

Good thoughts, Kay. I recently heard (but have no proof) that the reason that the 'controlled burns' keep going even during hideous wind such as we had last weekend is that the USFS is assigned 'burn days' and if they don't use them, they won't be rescheduled. IF this is true, it's one more sign of the idiocy of some of the fire policies.

Riser

2Rusty your post is very irresponsible as are most of these other anti-burn smoke. Crazy someone would put in print rumors and half truths. Good for you long time resident to take the time to go out and see what is actually going on. These low intensity prescribed burns are a cheap insurance policy against catastrophic fires and are also very beneficial to wildlife, watersheds and forest health.

RFranklin

Kay, I believe your editorial is correct. Do not listen to the above comments that attempt to tell you are wrong. There are many things that we can do to manage our forests. I cannot remember the name of the forestry teacher from NAU who did many years of research that would support what you say.

ronzim

Not so fast here. There are two important elements of science involved in this matter: The first is fire science and the second in medical science. In this case the two are in tension.

There is no question that controlled burning is the premiere science for the purpose of preventing much larger fires in the future and for the best management of the forests, especially in those areas where humans reside in large number along with their valuable structures. Not only does controlled burning ameliorate future large fires, it is also good for the forest for reproductive purposes. In addition, controlled burning helps reduce global warming.

Unfortunately, there is a downsize to this which results from the micro-particles emitted by fires. These particles are referred to a PM.25 and are too small to be coughed or sneezed up and too large to pass harmlessly through the lungs into our blood streams. They get up to great mischief in our cardio-pulmonary systems. Those persons or families who have the means are able to protect themselves from these particles by installing fine-micron filters in their HVAC systems and acquiring protective masks when going out of doors. Regrettably, the poor, as is too often the case, fall victim to this hazard. This creates additional environmental discrimination unless the poor are provided with every means of protection.

Marc-V-Ridenour

In the past I suggested easily-implemented options about defending our homes and businesses from wildfire. Rodeo-Chediski 2002 ought to have been a wake-up call. Option #1: Begin massive harvesting of wood so that we can A. have a much lower fuel load in forests surrounding our communities, and B. enable the Navajo Power Generating Station to use biomass instead of coal (and pass along some of that harvested timber to locals in need of wood to fuel their stoves, and C. plant deciduous trees (maples, oak, ect.) that would also reduce any CO2 buildup by converting it to oxygen by photosynthesis. Option #2: have mobilization plans to draft all heavy machinery in Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside—snowplows, bulldozers, road graders, ect, to at once begin to bulldoze a mile-wide clear zone all around Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside in the event of a major wildfire. I know the idiots who hug trees, Bambi, and spotted owls will scream, but if they see flames bearing down on their homes, what will they think, say, should, scream and shriek then? We need to begin these efforts NOW! Or next year California might be watching US burn!

Marc-V-Ridenour

ANYBODY REMEMBER THIS ONE?

Wildfire Politics

EAGAR, Ariz., June 25, 2002

“Spotted owl huggers were the

grand architects of this catastrophe.”

Show Low resident Marc Ridenour,

blaming environmentalists for opposing policies

he believes would curtail large forest fires.

(CBS) Fires ripping through eastern Arizona are fueling a growing debate over the best way to manage the nation's forests.

“Mother Nature is saying to Arizona right now, saying to the West that we've got to clean up these forests,” Gov. Jane Dee Hull said as she toured the fires that have forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

As the young fire season grows worse each day, government's land-management practices and environmentalists who sued to block logging efforts are being blamed for the onrushing flames.

For decades, the government's policy was to knock down forest fires as quickly as possible. As a result, a 2000 report by the General Accounting Office found that, on average, forests had four times the number of trees as they did when fire was allowed to run its course.

Last year, the Forest Service said forest conditions “increase the probability of large, intense fires beyond any scale yet witnessed.”

But there is a bitter dispute over how to address the problem. Environmental groups claim that hacking down trees to lessen the chance of huge, destructive wildfires only helps logging companies, not forests.

Over the weekend, Hull and others said that argument has led to the charred landscape that used to be pine trees in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

“The policies that are coming from the East Coast, that are coming from the environmentalists, that say we don't need to log, we don't need to thin our forests are absolutely ridiculous,” said Hull, a Republican. “Nobody on the East Coast knows how to manage these fires and I for one have had it.”

Attacking the cause of severe fires by thinning forests was a priority in the Forest Service's fire plan, updated last year. But Carl Holguin, director of the Forest Service's Southwest Region, said it is easy for anyone to file a lawsuit and delay a forest thinning project.

“It only takes one person with a stamp to throw a wrench into the works,” he said.

Show Low resident Marc Ridenour, who was forced to leave his home because of the fires, is angry at environmental groups.

“They helped set the stage for this,” he said. “Spotted owl huggers were the grand architects of this catastrophe.”

In the last two years, the government has spent $796 million to reduce hazardous fuel levels on federal land, but the GAO was unable to determine how effectively the money was used.

Craig Gehrke, a forest expert with the Wilderness Society, said it is naive to think that cutting down trees will solve the fire problems.

“They're kidding themselves if they think they can control all the forces in the forest,” he said. “In drought years, forests are going to burn.”

He said taking out small trees leaves flammable material on the forest floor and can make it more prone to fire. The best solution, he said, is setting targeted fires during the early spring and late fall months to clear out excessive growth.

Because of severe drought conditions throughout the southwest, forest managers say they were unable to use prescribed burns as much as they would have liked.

Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said humans can manage forests by cutting trees to thin the woods, then allowing fire to do its job. That could take 10 years to achieve, but without it more devastating blazes are bound to follow.

“We're going to continue to see this until we start actively managing the forests, cleaning them up and getting fire back into the ecosystem,” he said. “We've got to get people to stop arguing about who's right and start doing what's right.”

For Jim Cundiff, 52, who was waiting to find out if flames had wiped out his Linden home, it may be too late.

“There's a fairly well-meaning, but totally ignorant group of people in this community who think you can manage the environment in a hands-off manner, but these people don't live out here,” he said. “Don't come up here in designer clothes and an SUV and tell me you love the woods. There's no more trees to hug.”

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