For the past four years, The American Lands Council has been following the sad destruction of forests all across the West as failed federal policies have led to dead and dying forests that have turned into million-acre-matchsticks just waiting for a spark. Blaming "climate change", rather than looking to correct devastating federal policies, the U.S. Forest service is admittedly at a "breaking point". Each summer has seen catastrophic fires that are destroying our air, watershed, and millions of animals as we wait for Congress to fix the myriad of problems that they and the federal bureaucrats have created.
TheGuardian.com February, 2016
The US Forest Service has warned it is at the “tipping point” of a crisis in dealing with escalating wildfires and diseases that are ravaging America’s increasingly fragile forest ecosystems.
The federal agency, which manages 193m acres (78m hectares) of forest, will plead once again for more funding from Congress, in the wake of a devastating 2015 that saw record swaths of forest engulfed in flames.
A total of 10.1m acres were burned last year, a figure that is double the typical losses seen 30 years ago. During this time, the average fire season in the US has lengthened by 78 days, with scientists predicting that the amount of forest razed by fire will double by 2050.
...The US Forest Service to breaking point, the agency has warned. It spent about 65% of its $5bn budget dealing with wildfires last year and is requesting that fire be treated like other natural disasters so that it is able to access more money to keep pace.
Bonnie said the growing conflagration of America’s forests means the US Forest Service has had to divert resources from other areas, such as the kind of forest restoration that helps prevent future wildfires. Attempts to remedy this situation with a new disaster fund were dashed when it was not included in the federal budget in December.
“We will keep on this and try again this year,” he said. “There are clear challenges that are hard to argue with. If we don’t deal with this, the trends are going to look very bad indeed.”
Last year, Washington state endured its largest wildfires on record, with three people dying and more than 100 homes lost. The blazes were declared a national emergency, with the smoke causing a haze to settle over Seattle for several days. Nationally, 13 firefighters died tackling various wildfires last year.
The article goes on to blame drought, people who choose to build homes near the forests and several other circumstances for the substantial increase in wildfires and their intensities over the past several decades. What they fail to mention is that federal policies that forbid the proper thinning of forests causes too many trees to compete for a limited water supply. Overcrowded timber stands leave the forests susceptible to drought, disease, and pest infestation. Bark beetle infestations in poorly managed national forests have killed millions of acres of trees. And to add insult to injury, WA DC bureaucrats and federal judges forbid caretakers to thin the forests in a timely manner or take dead wood out of the forest, which leaves us with black and brown tinder boxes instead of beautiful, healthy, productive green forests.
These conditions, and a pile of non nonsensical federal rules and regulations, make it nearly impossible for federal land managers to care for the resources they are charged with managing, and extremely difficult for wildland firefighters to put fires out before they rage out of control.
We at the American Lands Council realize we cant -- and shouldn't have to -- wait for Washington DC to fix all these problems.
We want a healthy environment, abundant recreation, & safe, vibrant communities. But ‘one-size-fails-all’ federal bureaucracy is giving us just the opposite:
- Forests are overgrown and going up in smoke in record numbers, killing wildlife, destroying habitat, choking off water supplies, spewing carcinogenic pollutants, and threatening the health, safety and welfare of western communities.
- Tens of thousands of roads and trails are being blocked off by federal agencies all over the west, restricting recreation access and aggravating catastrophic wildfire conditions.
- Western States are held hostage -- denied the ability to care for our own lands, protect our communities, and determine our own destiny on terms of equality and fairness with States east of the Rocky Mountains.
It’s time to #FreeTheLands from federal control so we can tend our public lands more like a living, breathing garden and less like a “hands-off, don’t-touch” museum. After all, who knows and cares about western lands better than westerners do?
It's time Congress honor the same promises of Statehood it made to all states --- that is to allow each State the equal right to govern the lands, resources, and citizens within their borders. The great imbalance of a federal bureaucracy controlling over half the land in western America isn't fair, and it isn't working.