By: Anthony J (Tony) Sacco, Sr., JD (An update of this article was provided by the author on July 21, 2020).
11/16/18. Cheyenne, WY – On Tuesday, 11/12/18, my local newspaper published an article on its Opinion Page. The publisher loves to do that. The article quoted the L. A. Times. The Publisher loves to do that, too. Our local paper is wildly liberal. So is the L.A. Times.
But that L.A. Times article was a misleading account of the causes of the California fires that were, at the time, burning hundreds of acres of prime forest land in that state. The article sought to deflect the blame for the sad state of affairs in that state away from radical environmentalist and erroneous liberal federal forest management policies. This is the unfortunate result.
In fact, there are two important reasons for the increased destruction being wreaked by recent forest fires:
- Failure to thin standing trees by cutting and removing dead or dying timber, especially diseased trees killed by the Pine Bark Beetle.
- Failure to remove downed timber felled by disease, wind, lightning strikes, and age.
This is gross mismanagement of our forests. Not recognizing the harm done by failing to correct these two policies results in the presence of huge amounts of fuel for fires. The cost to our nation is enormous, especially in terms of lost lumber, which causes the cost of materials used for the construction of homes to skyrocket, and in terms of wildlife. Elk, deer, antelope, raccoons, rabbits, grouse and pheasants must seek to avoid death by attempting to outrun the flames. Eventually, they have no where to run, and death ensues.
But the article does manage to provide its readers with the liberal’s ignorant, mandatory criticism of President Trump. His excellent tweet points to one of the main causes, as I have: “gross mismanagement” of forests generally and California’s forests specifically.
The L.A. Times article headline reflects an amazing example of a do-nothing approach to their problem. It states , “California fires will happen again. Let’s Be Ready.” But it says nothing about just how the state should “be ready.” It does not address the two main causes for the increasingly destructive forest fires in their state and in the country. Instead, it seeks to obfuscate, confuse, and gain sympathy with this: “The scope of human suffering is beyond ready comprehension.” Well, maybe it is – at least to the editors of the L.A. Times – who don’t seem to be seeking knowledge and understanding of this problem, as President Trump’s tweets suggest they should.
Just the results of these two failed policies provide fuel for fires caused by everything from lightning strikes to unattended campfires. In pointing to these, I am NOT referring to clearcutting. AND both the President and I are NOT addressing fires on grasslands, which can be spread quickly by proximity to forest fires, by drought, by lightning strikes, and other causes.
These forestry problems have been addressed and changed in several states. One example is South Dakota, which has few if any annual forest fires because it sends crews into the forests to cut and remove dead and downed timber, thus eliminating much of the fuel a fire needs, in order to burn.
Until these forestry problems are addressed nationwide, forest fires will continue to intensify, not just in California but in other states as well. And the cost to one of our nation’s resources and to one of our nation’s industries, and ultimately to our nation’s people, will continue to be astronomical.