(LONG) Cost of fighting fires cast doubt on national plan

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Tue Jul 2 16:05:18 EST 2002

In article <b9eb3efe.0207020525.152ba74f at posting.google.com>, 
wolfbat359 at mindspring.com writes: 
> Huge fires are not new 

> While vigorously campaigning in areas of wildfires, Govs. Jane Hull
> (Arizona) and Bill Owens and U.S. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton
> have promoted the policy of cutting timber to prevent forest fires.
> They support the argument by pointing to a historical time when there
> was considerably less timber. Cleaning up the forest might be sound
> policy to prevent wildfires - except that wildfire disasters occurred
> during that golden era.

You should note that all these wildfires occurred in areas that had not 
been logged.
> Some examples, according to "The National Forests," by Arthur H.
> Carhart (Knopf, 1959):
> 1871, Peshtigo, Wisc.: Fire burned more than 1.2 million acres and
> took more than 1,500 lives.
> 1881, Manistee and Ausable Valley, Mich.: Fire burned 2 million acres
> and cost 169 lives.
> 1894, Hinckley, Minn.: Fire took 418 lives.
> 1910, Montana/Idaho Great 1910 Fire: Burned an area 25 to 30 miles
> wide and 120 miles long - 3 million acres. Most of the burn occurred
> in 24 hours. It took 84 lives.
> 1918, Cloquet, Minn.: Fire burned 250,000 acres and cost more than 453
> lives.
> It is clear that a return to some golden age of forest management will
> not accomplish the goals promoted by Hull, Owens and Norton.

It is more desirable that we actually start managing the forests on our 
public lands.  The current freeze out is no sounder than the Reagan era 
cowboy overcut of 20 years ago.  There are stands of lodgepole in the 
Cascades that are so dense you can't walk between the trees.  You have 
two choices; either burn the trees down or open the woods up to 
commercial thinning operations.

Hundreds of homes burning down in wildfires are sad, but that is just a 
symptom of the poor management the federal government has allowed on 
national lands.  Somehow we need to remove federal timber lands from the 
political spoils system.  


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