Los Alamos Fire Forces Rep. Pearce to Call for Better Forest Management

Los Alamos Fire Forces Rep. Pearce to Call for Better Forest Management

29 June 2011

published by www.thestatecolumn.com

USA — Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) published an op-ed this week, in which the congressman called for better forest management as a way of preventing forest fires and sustaining tourism and jobs in New Mexico. Pearce’s call for improved forest management techniques comes at a time when residents of the city of Los Alamos, New Mexico fear that the Los Alamos fire will soon engulf the city in flames.

On Monday, Los Alamos County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of Los Alamos, beginning with residents who are closest to the approaching wildfire. The Los Alamos fire also threatens the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which holds the significance of being the home where the world’s first nuclear weapons were produced. The Los Alamos National Laboratory is still the nation’s top nuclear weapons lab.

Residents, who live near the Los Alamos lab, are concerned that the Los Alamos fire will spread radioactive smoke into the air if the flames reach the tents where the nuclear waste from the facility is stored. At this moment, Los Alamos National Laboratory and nuclear safety officials are confident that the Los Alamos fire won’t reach the tents and that, if the fire makes it to the barrels of nuclear waste, every precaution has been taken to prevent the flames from damaging the barrels.

With the Los Alamos fire raging outside of the famous town, Pearce hammered home the need for the Forest Service to improve its job performance in New Mexico. Pearce grew frustrated after finding out that the Forest Service had closed off access to parts of the New Mexico forest due to widespread dry conditions. Pearce argued that while the decision to suspend access to the forest was made because of the fire danger across the state, the decision is also “stifling tourism and recreation—primary sources of income for the area.”

Pearce professed that the extreme fire danger has been hastened by bad forest management. “Healthy forest management has been prevented by a barrage of environmental lawsuits that hamstring the Department of the Interior and advocate reckless policies,” Pearce wrote. The impact of these actions are numerous and widespread: “logging is banned, we lose thousands of jobs, and forests become heavily overgrown, creating ideal conditions for a quickly-spreading, uncontrollable fire,” Pearce revealed.

Pearce added that the “the failure of the Forest Service to manage one of our nation’s greatest resources is a disgrace.” Pearce identified the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s forest management practices as an example of what the Forest Service should strive for in the future. The congressman also warned that New Mexico’s “fate will almost certainly be the same as that of our friends west of here, where the Wallow Fire is devastating hundreds of thousands of acres.”

According to ABC News, the Los Alamos fire is now more than 60,000 acres in size.

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