by Tim Pearce
Adopting more active forest management policies such as increased thinning of trees and conducting controlled burns will help mitigate damage from future wildfires, The Las Angeles Times editorial board writes.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke began advocating similar policy prescriptions earlier in the year after President Donald Trump blamed California’s “bad environmental laws” for creating a wildfire-prone environment.
California forests have grown dryer and less healthy from overcrowded trees, infestations of bark beetles and the effects of climate change, the Las Angeles Times writes. California’s restrictions on active forest management have contributed to the poor and worsening conditions of the forests, allowing them to grow uninhibited while suppressing fires that would normally naturally control the forests’ growth.
“Fire is not necessarily bad for forests. California used to burn with regularity, and low-intensity fires are vital in some ecosystems to clear excess brush and small trees from the landscape,” the editorial board writes. “But there’s been a change in fire behavior over the last century, as the state and federal government began dousing the blazes. Decades of fire suppression have allowed forests to grow dense with trees.”
“Combined with drought, insect infestations and the stress of a warming climate, those management practices have led to more intense and destructive fires that are more dangerous to people living near the forests and more damaging to air quality,” the op-ed continues.
California’s environmental laws entered the national spotlight in early August when Trump blamed them for the severity of the wildfires that were ravaging the state.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was soon at the front of the administration’s push for California to begin adopting more active land management policies. Zinke traveled to California to see the damage from the fires and meet with local officials and firefighters Aug. 13.
Zinke ramped up calls for greater forest thinning while also dismissing the idea that climate change is playing a significant factor in the wildfires’ intensity.
“I’ve heard the climate change argument back and forth,” Zinke told Sacramento-based KCRA. “This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown partnered with state lawmakers to introduce changes to the state’s policies. The bill would grant $1 billion toward forest thinning and ease regulations on cutting trees on private property, according to the Las Angeles Times.
Kind of reminds me of something I hear many many years ago.
Setting: Courtroom with the Forest Service Manager (FSM) on the stand.
Lawyer: “Sir you are in charge of all the national forests in the United States. Correct?”
FSM: “Yes Sir.”
Lawyer: “For purpose of demonstration, we will equate one wooden matchstick for one million trees. Please hold out your hands, as he placed a couple of boxes of match sticks in the FSM’s hands. This should equal the amount of trees that were around when you department was formed. Now, over the years, your department has sold off lumber rights to harvest for private and public industry.” The Lawyer takes a few off the FSM’s hands. “With a few outcries of deforestation, your department gets an expert guidebook to run your forests.” The Lawyer adds a few matchsticks back. “Now with trees doing what trees do in the forest and new science backing your guidebooks,” adding a few more matchsticks to the pile, “Your department was slowly breaking even keeping the forests healthy and productive, correct?”
Lawyer: “Now we have the interference from people running around with unproven scientific facts and Lumber companies and corporations trying to tell you how to do your job, making your department spend all your allocated money in the court system which is not allowing you to do your job to keep the forests healthy and productive.” All this time the Lawyer has been adding to the pile in the FSM’s hand.
FSM: Looking down at his hands and seeing that he is holding about four boxes of match sticks in his hands. “That’s about right.”
Lawyer: “Now to be fair, I am going to remove the percentage that you were allowed to sell off.” He reached up and removed one matchstick from the FSM’s hands and holds it up for the court to see. Turns to the FSM and looks him in the eye, “What do you think Mother Nature’s solution to your problem would be?”
The Forest Service Manager’s eyes got very big as he saw the Lawyer’s thumbnail scratch the head of the lone matchstick in his hand.
I believe in conservation but to go too far left or right really upsets the balance. Mother Nature has been doing this for millions of years and we can see what she has done with mistakes over that time period. The bigest problem we have today is too many theorys that are broadcasted by the media, our leaders and schools and not enough facts.
Climate change in nature is an ongoing thing. If humans are speeding it up or slowing it down is the question we need to answer. I turn on the news and someone is spouting something about it but it is all theory with little or no facts behind it. They trot out some unknown science person that says in the last twenty, thirty, or fifty years there has been this amount of change but when asked, they have no clue what climate did in a certain area one hundred, one thousand, one million, or one trillion years ago.
The Truth of it is, that while it is sad for the lives lost and the damage done to the forests, we need to return to the middle of the road to continue to survive.