Era of Megafires – How do you want your fire?
Last Wednesday evening at the Sacajawea Center in Salmon a meeting presented by Dr. Paul Hessburg, was held titled Era of Megafires – How do you want your fire? How do you want your smoke? Since it was partly sponsored by the Salmon Challis National Forest I was hoping it would be about opening up economic opportunity in our forests by allowing logging to reduce the tremendous amount of fuel loads or at least open roads for firefighting access.
To my dismay it was a 70 minute presentation about forest ecology and how fire has been used as a beneficial means to keep our forests healthy. It was also mentioned we could use prescribed or controlled burns to prevent Megafires. I believe it was an attempt to redirect the peoples lost faith in current forest management practices and to temper their anger over each summer’s smoke in our valleys, black runoff in our rivers, dead wildlife and human health issues.
We were then told by Dr. Hessburg, that past decades of fires and the coming Megafires of the future are the result of Gobal Warming. According to Dr Hessburg, “until society realizes the biggest threat to our forests is global warming there are no clean cut solutions”. I beg to differ. Decades of forest neglect by our federal land managers have brought the Megafire scenario upon us. “Who is to blame for these Megafires” the speaker asked? Dr.Hessburg expressed to the audience that we need to quit blaming the Forest Service for their hands off policies, we need to move on.
Many in the audience rebuffed the doctor’s argument affirming that there weren’t the fires of today when rural communities had thriving logging, mining and ranching industries. The environmental movement, pure and simple, is mostly to blame, their lawsuits, the injunctions, and judicial threats have moved people out of the woods and left the forests to grow old and diseased.
One environmentalist speaking in the film presentation said “maybe it was time to start removing some of this wood with selected harvesting”. Folks in the audience were none too pleased being lectured by Dr. Paul Hessburg, a landscape ecologist, and our local Forest Supervisor as to how they need to rethink Megafire and its causes.
For more than a half hour local ranchers and residents gave the hosts an earful of historic wisdom. This presentation had been made 84 times throughout the West in an effort to distract the woeful neglect of all Western forests. The time for making excuses is over. The U.S.F.S. must allow people to cut and clean out dead wood for personal use with impunity. How do you want your fire? How do you want your smoke? WE DON’T WANT EITHER!
Representative Dorothy Moon
Legislative District 8 B
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