On Sept. 11, the surrounding communities of Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Leavenworth and Wenatchee were basking in temperatures between 91 and 97 degrees with a forecast of more of the same. These communities, having witnessed the devastation of 97,000 acres going up in smoke last September have all been anxiously hoping to get through this September without a repeat of last years fires. An all out burn ban had been in place, and private property owners were holding their collective breath until the rains of September could lessen the wildfire danger. A column of smoke rising from the hills under these weather conditions was the last thing anyone in these communities wanted to see. The lack of concern over what the people of these communities might have thought when they saw that column of smoke rising shows a decided absence of any degree of common sense. And some would say an arrogance born of the unaccountable government policy of do as I say not as I do, as we are from the government and we know best! Terms like best available science, and empirical evidence are useless when coupled with incompentence and carelessness. Starting fires in these conditions is a very risky business, and it should not be done. This puts communities at risk and could have been avoided with correct forest management policies that would have produced a healthy forest in the first place. The lack of competent forest management practices have left our forests in a state of critical health that will take generations to heal. That is if were lucky enough to not see it all simply go up in flames. The policy of letting "nature take it's course" in regards to forest management is an absolute disgrace! Pesticides, herbicides, chain saws and yes, fire, are all management tools that have their place in maintaining a healthy forest. Locally, the spruce budworm outbreak that began in 2001 could have been "managed". But those in charge of protecting our forests chose to let nature take it's course. Instead of spraying or even burning a thousand acres, they sat back and watched hundreds of thousands of acres become decimated by the spruce budworm. And now we get to watch the pine beetle move in and finish what the budworm started. Then of course, as always happens, fire will come to deal the final blow to this scenario the mis-managers have laid out for all of our national forests. Tour any forest in the west and you will see the sad results of inaction and neglect in the thousands and thousands of standing dead trees. Global warming is a convenient scapegoat for the USFS to use in explaining all the massive wildfires across the western states in recent history. But the real reason is simply incompetent forest management by the U.S. forest service, which uses the terms global warming and climate change as an excuse for inaction. If we are to operate on the philosophy of hope and change, then lets hope the change will be a different and accountable forest management policy that will keep forests and surrounding communities healthy. That is what the USFS should focus on now. Simply letting trees die and then burning them is not a wise or scientific approach to forestry, and has dealt a death blow to all that is natural that was supposed to be naturally protected. Certainly, our USFS can do a better job of doing the job!
September 24, 2013