Fired up over foolish federal forest policies

Timber companies have far more at stake than federal regulators in limiting fire damages!

  • colorado-wildfires

Forest fires are raging throughout the western United States as they often do this time of year, and just as thunder follows lightning, we can expect to hear environmentalists and their political shills blame global warming for the tempest.

In fact, a quick Internet search of the terms “forest fires” and “climate change” provides a cascade of responses ranging from attacking California Representative Dana Rohrabacher for dismissing the concept that forest fires and global warming are related to detailed explanations of how the purportedly warming atmosphere is creating drought-like conditions.

An article on the National Wildlife Federation blog complains that the media is missing the big story on the Rim Fire in California which has burned a portion of Yosemite National Park writing, “Yet almost universally missing from the media coverage, as usual: That climate change is making wildfires more frequent and intense. As they have in past years, reporters won’t connect the dots in their main stories, treating the science that’s staring us in the face as a side story.”

The once respectable National Wildlife Federation’s reporting never once mentions that the climate has been stable for the past 15 years and the so-called scientific consensus that the Earth’s atmosphere is warming has collapsed.

But what is more irresponsible in this and hundreds of other reports is that the very environmental fundraisers who are sending out emails demanding money from the gullible based upon the need to stop global warming to save a cute feathery creature from horrific demise by fire are likely partially responsible for the fire damage being done.

By using the Endangered Species Act and through an anti-logging Forest Management doctrine, dead and dying timber has been left uncut and wilderness areas have been left road-free.

The effect is devastating.

The dried out dead and dying trees act as kindling that accelerates a fire’s growth and Smoky the bear whyintensity, while the non-existent roads eliminate both fire breaks and the ability to get equipment and personnel into areas to allow fires to be more easily contained.

There is no doubt that fires burn in both managed and unmanaged forests, the difference is that in managed areas the timbering itself creates natural fire breaks, creates man-made access to the outbreak making it easier to fight, and the forestry practice itself is designed to protect the maximum number of trees from fire.

The disaster of a fire ravaging a forest becomes doubly acute for a company that owns the rights to cut timber. For a timber company, a devastating forest fire is not only an environmental disaster, but also an economic one that destroys the product that they plan to harvest to provide the wood the world needs to build homes, furniture and other structures.

It is in the financial interest of these firms to take care and manage this renewable resource responsibly to ensure that when the inevitable fire occurs, the chances of it consuming hundreds of thousands of acres of forest lands are minimized.

The next time you hear or read of an “activist” bemoaning the critical habitat lost through a forest fire and urging action on global warming it would be wise to ask what role did anti-timber policies play in exacerbating the devastation?

When the next fundraising appeal arrives in your mail box with a furry critter surrounded by the charred remains of what used to be its home, question whether that organization has supported responsible timber management practices or has pursued a zero use policy that is directly responsible for the kind of high intensity fires we are now seeing out west.

Environmental fundraisers frequently depend upon people who respond emotionally to a heartbreaking picture without engaging in the critical thinking to discover whether the proposed solutions are viable or even helpful.

Remember that the environmental fundraiser makes money in the aftermath of a disaster, while those who make a living from the resource make money by preventing and limiting the disaster.

For me, I will trust someone who loses millions of dollars if a forest burns to engage in responsible practices to save that investment over someone who sees a forest fire as a means to raise money to lobby against global warming.

It is time to start listening to the timber companies when it comes to forestry management rather than the shrill voices of those whose no-cut ideas have had disastrous consequences.

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About the Author: Rick Manning

Rick Manning is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

  • james rust

    The National Interagency Fire Center keeps records of the number of wildfires and areas covered for the United States on a daily basis. The following table listing fires for the past ten years from January 1 to September 10 was released September 10. As shown, 2013 wildfires is the lowest level in the past ten years and less than two-thirds the average. This is contrary to impressions given by national newspapers and ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN on their reporting.

    The great attention given to wildfires this year is due to efforts by President Obama’s Administration to promote global warming from burning fossil fuels is causing increased catastrophic events like wildfires. Paraphrasing Mark Twain on his reported death, “The news of greater national wildfires is greatly exaggerated.”

    Other areas involving the United States on global warming threat subject to Mark Twain’s comment are recent increases in rain, drought, hurricanes, tornados, sea level rise, 2012 being the hottest year on record, and lack of snowfall. On a global basis comments subject to Mark Twain’s comments are accelerating sea level rise, accelerating global temperature increases, and record decline on sea ice extent. Climate events happening today have been happening for millennia.

    YEAR-TO-DATE NATIONAL WILDFIRE STATISTICS

    Year-to-date statistics2013 (1/1/13 – 9/10/13) Fires: 36,275Acres: 3,960,2542012 (1/1/12 – 9/10/12)Fires: 45,777Acres: 8,180,6602011 (1/1/11 – 9/10/11) Fires: 56,803Acres: 7,451,0712010 (1/1/10 – 9/10/10) Fires: 45,306Acres: 2,657,4832009 (1/1/09 – 9/10/09) Fires: 66,446Acres: 5,475,2072008 (1/1/08 – 9/10/08) Fires: 66,038Acres: 4,646,8922007 (1/1/07 – 9/10/07) Fires: 68,949Acres: 7,378,7152006 (1/1/06 – 9/10/06) Fires: 84,703Acres: 8,675,2942005 (1/1/05 – 9/10/05) Fires: 47,653Acres: 7,930,1262004 (1/1/03 – 9/10/04) Fires: 56,198Acres: 7,673,36110-year average 2004-2013Fires: 57,415Acres: 6,402,906
    James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and Policy Advisor The Heartland Institute

    • ChuckS123

      Maybe you could edit this to make it more readable. Put returns before the years. If that doesn’t work, put some spaces or asterisks.

  • alpha2actual

    The incidence of wildfires has increased primarily because of unintended consequences of polices for decades by the Forestry Service undisciplined logging and the anti-logging wing to the Environmental Movement. For decades the Forestry Service policy has been to immediately address and extinguish fire outbreaks thus curtailing low order ground fires from burning undergrowth. These fires are essential to the overall health by returning essential nutrients to the soil, removing the primary fuel source before the density increases in volume that causes the old growth trees to burn. In the case of the Sequoia tree the heat from these fires is an essential element of their seeding cycle, the heat causes seed release. The problem has occurred because the two primary tools for reducing the density of fuel in forests–controlled burning and disciplined logging–have been increasingly restricted by the Forest Service. Controlled burning of moderate stands of undergrowth–fires that would not be hot enough to harm larger trees–is no longer possible in many areas of the west, because the forest density is so great that foresters fear such fires could not be kept under control. Disciplined logging, which preserves forest health in privately owned forest lands, has been dramatically cut back in National Forests because of protests by a small but vocal group of anti-growth, anti-logging organizations with little or no expertise in forest management process. The anti-logging campaign has resulted in essentially the same outcomes.

  • Andres Valencia

    Thanks, Rick. I think you are right. Timber people know more about forests than bureaucrats.

  • ChainSaw

    You may find that the whole global warming climate change fiasco has been manufactured by the IPCC, See this leaked report sept 14 2013 and pass it on: http://tinyurl.com/noccsept2013 All our economy has been changed by people who should be tarred and feathered. IE: Al Gore and Bill Clinton!

  • Peter

    The intentions of the anti-road lobby go well beyond stopping logging. They do not want citizens to have access to the forests.

  • VLL

    Speaking of endangered species… the pitch pine is nearly extinct because we haven’t been doing “controlled burns” to control the underbrush and clear the dead weight, too. If we did those controlled burns, these big raging fires wouldn’t happen.

    The trouble is, while a pitch pine is not cute and furry, it is incredibly useful for human beings. The pitch pine makes excellent “fat wood” for fires and is a good turpentine source as well. My grandmother was telling people about this in the 1960′s… and the 1970′s. and the 1980′s… but nobody seems to care. She actually opened some pitch pine cones in her fire place (oddly, the trees survive normal sized fires just fine, and NEEDS fire to sprout seed of all things) and planted six of them. She handed more off to others to plant on their property. The DNR guy tells me that they are those she planted are only pitch pine trees left in the Manistee National Forest.

  • GRAMPA

    To disprove use math. ask how many BTU’s it takes to raise one cubic foot of sea water one degree. divide that into the cubic feet of the Ocean. The amount they will get couldnt be produced by mankind from the beginning of the industrial revolution. The amount of BTU’s the sun puts on earth in one day equals and far exceeds all of our energy output. They want us to think it is us so they can put on regulations on our power. The reason is power but their power.
    Grampa