USA — Altadena’s representative in Congress took aim at the Forest Service this week for missing deadlines on completing a study on allowing fire crews to fly at night in Forest Service areas.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, released a statement Thursday criticizing the U.S. Forest Service for continuing to delay a decision on whether to allow night flights for fire crews during a brush fire emergency.
The Forest Service’s rules on night flying prevented federal aircraft from being used at night to help battle the 2009 Station Fire, the largest wildfire in L.A. County’s history.
Criticism over delays in making a decision are nothing new: Sen. Diane Feinstein publicly scolded the agency in September for missing an internal deadline to make a decision by August of 2011.
Schiff noted that missed deadline in his press release and also scolded the Forest Service for missing a second deadline to make the decision by the end of 2011.
As we enter yet another fire season, the Forest Service’s delay poses additional risks to communities adjacent to the forest. The Forest Service should make public their analyses of whether and how to develop its own night-flying capability, Schiff wrote.
Local Forest Service spokeswoman Sherry Rollman directed Patch questions on the issue to the national press office. We will update this story with their comments if we receive them.
Schiff also wrote that he would be asking for language in the Forest Service’s 2013 funding bill directing them to complete a study on night flying within 90 days of the bill’s enactment.
The Forest Service has been repeatedly criticized in local meetings for its response to the Station Fire, including its rules on night flying.