[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Front St.Trails Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
August 23, 2000
Clinton/Gore Place Nation At Risk
Its time to wake up and smell the smoke!
By Christopher I. West, Forester

Can you smell the smoke yet?   PORTLAND -- This year has been a devastating one for wildfires in the United States. This comes as no surprise, given that the Forest Service's own studies and data identify over 40 million acres of national forests are at high risk of catastrophic fire and 26 million acres more at high risk of insect infestation and disease.
     When this year's drought and dry lightning is combined with so many trees and so much brush, wildfire disasters are inevitable. Forestry and wildfire experts have seen this coming for years, and they have made those concerns known both to the land-management agencies and to Congress. The stark reality is that in order to deal with the millions of acres at risk, it is necessary to use a chainsaw to treat them. According to the General Accounting Office, it will be impossible to treat all these areas using non-mechanical means, such as prescribed fire.
     Unfortunately, Los Alamos proved the GAO's findings to be correct. It is time that the Forest Service and all of the critics of timber harvesting wake up and smell the smoke. The Forest Service must finalize the Cohesive Fire Strategy, which was requested by Congress in response to the GAO report. Unfortunately, the Clinton/Gore Administration pulled the draft strategy after it was released to the public this spring.
     The price tag and the use of chainsaws were too much for the administration to support in an election year. It is time that the agencies are allowed to submit budgets that address this catastrophic situation. In addition to developing a long-range strategy, the Forest Service needs to re-examine its reliance on a "hands off" policy as a way to manage forests, as evidenced by the Clinton/Gore roadless area initiative.
     Of the 54 million acres being considered for additional protection under this initiative, 22 million acres were identified by the GAO as at risk of catastrophic wildfires. The recent rash of fires demonstrate that there are significant environmental consequences to wildlife, fish, water quality, scenic values, air quality, recreation areas, and neighboring private lands resulting from the "hands off" policy.
     It is irresponsible of the Forest Service to advocate deliberate neglect as a land management philosophy. It is critical that the public get information not just on the number of acres burned, the number of houses destroyed or the number of lives lost.
     The administration needs to tell the public the full cost of these fires: How many millions of acres of critical wildlife habitat were lost, how many gallons of water were polluted, how many billions of board feet were lost in smoke and ash, how many miles of fireline were constructed with bulldozers in roadless areas?
The other question that needs to be addressed is how critical were roads to transporting firefighting personnel, evacuating the public or acting as firelines. They must provide this information in a timely manner so that the public can responsibly weigh the policy alternatives for managing these important national forests.
     Finally, the administration needs to stop using our forests as election year pawns and listen to the resource professionals entrusted with the management of these public treasures.

     [Editor's Note: Chris West is a professional forester and vice president of the Northwest Forestry Association located in Portland, Oregon. Readers may address e-mail to him at: cwest@nwforestry.org ].

Letter to the Editor

©2000 Clovis Free Press. All rights reserved.

Front Page | Calendar | Datebook | Real Estate | Opinion | Search | E-mail | City Cam | Schools
Public Affairs | Trails | Conservancy | Wish List | Free Classifieds! | Masthead | Advertise | Marketplace

News Stand

Valley Press | Bulldog News | California Star | Clovis Free Press | Daily Republican
Fresno Republican | Tollhouse - Shaver | Tower2000 News | Yosemite News

Aluisi Real Estate | Archer's Music | Auto Accessories | Auto House | PC Paramedics
Presentations Inc.
| Reagan Library | Sierra Portal | Web Portal

Clovis Free Press

"Of the people ~ By the people ~ For the People" - A. Lincoln

Copyright 1962, 2004 by Clovis Free Press - ClovisNews.com
Contact: Editor@ClovisNews.com
All rights reserved. Disclaim
Accessibility Guidelines

[an error occurred while processing this directive]