Day Writing by Heather Hamilton Maude:
A good portion of the western United States is on fire. I agree with the numerous people blaming “environmentalist” activist groups for the current state of our nation’s federal forests and the consequential uncontrolled burning that has spread to state and private lands. Due blame also being placed on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and other government agencies for allowing such negligence in federal land management, in addition to the various courts for the rulings that have only added fuel to the fire, both literally and figuratively.
Grazing and logging have slowly but steadily been reduced to the point of nonexistence over millions of acres. Those acres are now scorched to ugly, useless embers that killed the very vegetation and wildlife activists used to bully them into non-use.
The cause of these fires is not misuse by the livestock industry. Logging is not to blame. It is not the result of global warming, nor is it a “natural” occurrence. It is fallacy to the extreme through zero management of the landscape itself combined with limiting and falsifying the human sector that does physical good to that landscape.
The only way non-management works is when it is all inclusive, without any human interaction or impact. While activists love to tout that as an ultimate goal, the issue remains that they, along with all the other humans, live on land that was once part of the “wild” landscape. Zero human interaction on a large scale is a myth.
With an ever-increasing amount of land being converted to human use, the necessity of appropriately managing what vast and open lands are left only increases. The reason why is two-fold: first because that land is used to produce food, clothing and shelter for the human race, and second because it is habitat for all wildlife. The impact of a major fire like several currently burning is astronomically higher than ever before. This is because wildlife and livestock relying on those lands have fewer acres than at any time in history to utilize until they can return to burned areas.
The scores of animal species touted as endangered or threatened are facing annihilation and destruction to a degree the livestock and or logging industries couldn’t and wouldn’t begin to create in all of their existence. Activist groups have caused great harm to not only those species they claim to be saving, but to nearly all wildlife located in the northwestern United States thanks to the practices they have ruled into existence via their donation-paid lawyers.
Then there is the big business of fire, which is a relatively new phenomenon in America. No one should get rich off another man’s loss of home and livelihood, yet there are single income families who live comfortably off a government issued firefighting paycheck. And, while some are truly in it to get the flames out, my personal experience finds them to generally be aligned with the, “No more fire equals no more paycheck,” way of thinking. I’ve personally watched scores of paid firefighters sit and watch a fire get away in a scenario where it could have easily and safely been extinguished by half the number of men who were on the scene. More than once.
In Oregon alone, the state Department of Forestry spent just shy of $14.3 million dollars fighting fire by the last week of August, 2017, with average annual spending on wildfires at $34.3 million according to their spokesperson. Meanwhile, Natural Resource Economics out of Eugene, Oregon stated in their 2016 report that the direct net cost to taxpayers per acre logged in the state was $2,000. Some simple math reveals that over 17,000 acres in Oregon could be logged annually before associated costs exceed the state’s average annual firefighting expenses. A little more reading of scientific based articles reveals logging to be viable and beneficial to the forest landscape, both short and long-term.
Why preach all this to choir, so to speak? Because I also see this as a devastating but unique opportunity that needs to be taken full advantage of in an effort to prevent repetition. This is the result of activist, desk jockey management of western lands, and it has resulted in the death of a large swath of our nation’s forest and prairie, and all that inhabit it. This reality should be used to hold all responsible parties to the fire until the necessary changes and reforms are made that reallocate usage decisions to local governments and citizens. Reach out and use this sad, real world example of the consequences of misusing and mismanaging land to push even harder for the changes we’ve all been working to implement and/or prevent in an effort to continually improve the western lands we call home.
This is also a time to remind people of who taught them to love and care for all lands, whether private or public. Not some organization they can send a check to, but rather that individual who taught them to sincerely love God’s landscape. To treat it with care and concern, and to leave it better than they found it. Then ask them that person’s profession. Maybe it will sink in who the true environmentalists are.