In July the National Forest Service started a controlled fire not far from Monroe. The fire grew out of control and continues to rage. The Forest Service is containing the blaze (which they started), but want to let it burn until October. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of forest and wild life perish. Meanwhile… The sky is filled with more smoke than any polluted Chinese city. It is so bad that we have been told not go outside unless it is necessary. While some days are better than others, it has been burning far too long. This is an agricultural area, people have to go outside to make a living. As a result the people who live here are being unnecessarily exposed to health hazardous conditions. Really, the sun is red because of all the smoke.
Why would the government do this? Two reasons:
1. Environmental groups have made it almost impossible to log even selectively. As a result, the forest service has turned to controlled burns to thin the dangerously overgrown forests. The problem with this approach is that many of these controlled burns get out of control. Even those that do not, do far more environmental damage than any logging project. This is a big part of why most people in the Mountain West despise environmental groups such as the Sierra Club.
2. It creates job security. Wild land fire fighting has created an entire industry. In Utah alone, thousands are employed each year. I figured out how big this business is when I was a teenager, working a summer job loading truck at the near by Coca Cola distribution center. We filled truck after truck with water and Poweraid for firefighters fighting a local fire. I started thinking about how many wildfires there had been in west that year and how much money this must cost. We are trillions of dollars in debt, and are spending billions on fighting wild fires that we have purposefully started? This is insane!
I need to be clear. I have no problem with wild land fire fighters, my problem is with the whole bureaucracy (the National Forest Service and BLM) behind them. I myself was employed as a wild land firefighter for a summer. It’s one of the best paying jobs in this area. I also have a problem with the extremist environmental groups that have created conditions that lead to many of the fires.
There will always be wild fires in the west and a need for wild land firefighters, but the scale of this problem is far greater than it needs to be. When I was a child, the problem was not near the scale it is now. I can remember going camping and having camp fires late into the summer. Now it’s rare to not have a ban on camp fires by late May. Extremists environMENTAL groups and willing big government have collaborated in a special way to create this mess:
Due to unwarranted influence of eco-fascist groups and liberal politicians it is almost impossible to log (even selectively) on federal land. Keep in mind, the federal government owns almost 70% of the land in Utah. This lack of logging has created an increase in the amount of deadwood that provides fuel for major fires.
In a misguided attempt to protect our forests environmental groups have lobbied for the creation of wilderness areas where no motor vehicles are allowed. To ensure that these areas are protected many mountain roads have been removed. The removal of these roads have made it more difficult for firefighters to get equipment and people in position to fight the fires.
We need to use some common sense and allow selective logging including less restrictions on cutting standing deadwood. We need to stop controlled blazes that create far more havoc than they prevent. But, common sense will never happen as long as the federal government has control over about 70% of the land. The answers to this (like many other problems) is to restore the tenth amendment.