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Old 27-06-2003, 01:44 AM
Larry Harrell
 
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Default WashTimes---Fiddling while the west burns

Published June 26, 2003 THE WASHINGTON TIMES Editorial
Fiddling while the West burns
As many feared would happen, the fire season has started, and the
Senate is still fiddling with the president's Healthy Forests
Initiative. While the House passed the bill (HR 1904) over a month
ago, the Senate Agriculture Committee is only holding a full hearing
on it today.
The timing is critical, since the season's first big blaze ignited
last week in Arizona. It has only been about one-quarter contained,
and it has already consumed 345 homes and scorched about 25,000 acres.
Fighting it so far has cost about $5 million and involved about 1,200
firefighters. Meanwhile, several other large forest fires are
continuing to burn in New Mexico. Gov. Bill Richardson declared a
state of emergency after one fire jumped the Rio Grande and forced the
temporary evacuation of about 1,000 Albuquerque residents, including
the mayor's family.
Stories like that are likely to be repeated all summer. Experts
don't believe that this year's fire season will be as bad as last
year's, during which over 67,000 wildfires scorched more than 6
million acres. However, a report issued by the Northwest Interagency
Coordination Center earlier this month warned that conditions —
below-average precipitation last winter coupled with an already dry
summer — have set the stage for a terrible season. To date, over
625,000 acres have already burned, according to the National Fire
Information Center. Seventy million acres are thought to be at extreme
risk of experiencing wildfires.
Arizona's vast conflagration started in an area of forest ravaged
by bark beetles, one that might have been thinned under the Healthy
Forests Initiative. Likewise, Colorado's Hayman fire, which consumed
almost 140,000 acres last year, might have been prevented if the
Forest Service had been allowed to proceed with a planned
tree-thinning project.
In fact, the provisions in the House-passed bill are not so
different from the tree-thinning provisions that Sen. Tom Daschle
tried to put into last year's defense authorization. Recognizing that
tree-thinning in South Dakota's overstocked forests was necessary, Mr.
Daschle inserted language exempting his state from the environmental
regulations and lawsuits that slow such projects.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration announced that it plans
to reduce restrictions on tree-thinning projects designed to reduce
the risk of wildfires. California Gov. Gray Davis has also seen the
need to do so. In March, he declared a state of emergency for three
counties thought to be at high risk of catastrophic wildfires due to
drought and bark beetle infestations. "My action cuts the red tape and
provides landowners with the regulatory relief necessary to quickly
remove dead and dying trees from their property," Mr. Davis declared.
However, although the forests are already burning, the Senate has
no timeline for passage of the administration's initiative. Patty
Kirchner, who lost a home in the Arizona blaze, told a reporter, "The
thing that hurts the worst is the loss of the forest. Structures can
be rebuilt, but the forest takes so long." Preserving those woodlands
will take the sort of common sense tree-thinning projects that
Republicans and Democrats both agree are necessary. The Senate should
stop fiddling and move the Healthy Forests Initiative forward.

Comment by poster: Taking a page from the "preservationists" book, I'd
like to take this opportunity to urge folks to tell your Congressmen
what you'd like them to do about this emergency. It might be your
house that will burn next week. Much of the Rockies is still in a
drought, even with the cool wet weather we've had here in the Black
Hills, as well as the northern Rockies. Not good weather for finding
goshawks (my current project: How many foresters get to do this?!?!)

Larry
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Old 28-06-2003, 03:09 AM
Aozotorp
 
Posts: n/a
Default WashTimes---Fiddling while the west burns

No mention of the Alaska Fire? - The Moonies must not have investments up
there!
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Old 30-06-2003, 04:20 PM
Geoff Kegerreis
 
Posts: n/a
Default WashTimes---Fiddling while the west burns

Most of us just get dive-bombed by those suckers, Larry - that's how
we find 'em!

:-)

GK

Larry Harrell wrote:

Published June 26, 2003 THE WASHINGTON TIMES Editorial
Fiddling while the West burns
As many feared would happen, the fire season has started, and the
Senate is still fiddling with the president's Healthy Forests
Initiative. While the House passed the bill (HR 1904) over a month
ago, the Senate Agriculture Committee is only holding a full hearing
on it today.
The timing is critical, since the season's first big blaze ignited
last week in Arizona. It has only been about one-quarter contained,
and it has already consumed 345 homes and scorched about 25,000 acres.
Fighting it so far has cost about $5 million and involved about 1,200
firefighters. Meanwhile, several other large forest fires are
continuing to burn in New Mexico. Gov. Bill Richardson declared a
state of emergency after one fire jumped the Rio Grande and forced the
temporary evacuation of about 1,000 Albuquerque residents, including
the mayor's family.
Stories like that are likely to be repeated all summer. Experts
don't believe that this year's fire season will be as bad as last
year's, during which over 67,000 wildfires scorched more than 6
million acres. However, a report issued by the Northwest Interagency
Coordination Center earlier this month warned that conditions —
below-average precipitation last winter coupled with an already dry
summer — have set the stage for a terrible season. To date, over
625,000 acres have already burned, according to the National Fire
Information Center. Seventy million acres are thought to be at extreme
risk of experiencing wildfires.
Arizona's vast conflagration started in an area of forest ravaged
by bark beetles, one that might have been thinned under the Healthy
Forests Initiative. Likewise, Colorado's Hayman fire, which consumed
almost 140,000 acres last year, might have been prevented if the
Forest Service had been allowed to proceed with a planned
tree-thinning project.
In fact, the provisions in the House-passed bill are not so
different from the tree-thinning provisions that Sen. Tom Daschle
tried to put into last year's defense authorization. Recognizing that
tree-thinning in South Dakota's overstocked forests was necessary, Mr.
Daschle inserted language exempting his state from the environmental
regulations and lawsuits that slow such projects.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration announced that it plans
to reduce restrictions on tree-thinning projects designed to reduce
the risk of wildfires. California Gov. Gray Davis has also seen the
need to do so. In March, he declared a state of emergency for three
counties thought to be at high risk of catastrophic wildfires due to
drought and bark beetle infestations. "My action cuts the red tape and
provides landowners with the regulatory relief necessary to quickly
remove dead and dying trees from their property," Mr. Davis declared.
However, although the forests are already burning, the Senate has
no timeline for passage of the administration's initiative. Patty
Kirchner, who lost a home in the Arizona blaze, told a reporter, "The
thing that hurts the worst is the loss of the forest. Structures can
be rebuilt, but the forest takes so long." Preserving those woodlands
will take the sort of common sense tree-thinning projects that
Republicans and Democrats both agree are necessary. The Senate should
stop fiddling and move the Healthy Forests Initiative forward.

Comment by poster: Taking a page from the "preservationists" book, I'd
like to take this opportunity to urge folks to tell your Congressmen
what you'd like them to do about this emergency. It might be your
house that will burn next week. Much of the Rockies is still in a
drought, even with the cool wet weather we've had here in the Black
Hills, as well as the northern Rockies. Not good weather for finding
goshawks (my current project: How many foresters get to do this?!?!)

Larry


 
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