Protection law sacrifices human safety


Protection law sacrifices human safety

23 April 2013

published by http://dailyevergreen.wsu.edu


USA — When it comes down to a battle between saving a subspecies of woodpeckers and preventing wildfires, conservations groups will choose woodpeckers every time.
Recently, conservation groups proposed a law in California to provide the black-backed woodpecker with Endangered Species Act protections, according to Capital Press. The woodpecker feeds on insects in the dead trees left standing after wildfires, making it susceptible to fire suppression efforts.
This proposal demonstrates an important feature missing in laws proposed by conservation groups that put animal needs above human safety: logic. The listing of the woodpecker would not only amplify current problems regarding wildfire prevention efforts, but address a problem that does not exist.
The law would apply to specific mountain ranges in California, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming. The listing of the black-backed woodpecker as an endangered species would interfere with efforts to reduce wildfires and their subsequent damage, like thinning to reduce the intensity of wildfires.
The primary argument for this bill is employed by ecologist Chad Hansen of the John Muir Project. Hansen believes there is no such thing as a catastrophic wildlife. The notion of such is “really just politics and ignorance, and reflect outdated thinking,” he said, according to an article from Capital Press.
Wildfires last year alone burned 10 million acres in the United States, destroyed nearly 2,000 residences and killed 12 firefighters. The death of 12 firefighters is not political.
The threat of more severe wildfires is on the way with an unusually dry California winter, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. Limited rainfall is thought to be a determining factor for the fire in Riverside County in late February, which caused significant damage to homes along the Santa Ana River.
New Mexico has experienced abnormally intense fires in 2011 and 2012, says Congressman Steve Pearce, according to the Deming Headlight. Pearce stands against the petition from conservation extremist groups. The petition would force the Forest Service to let forests burn in order to allow the woodpecker to hunt, a notion that Pearce calls “ridiculousness.”
Roger Seewald and William A. Derr, retired U.S. Forest Service employees, reviewed the increasing danger of wildfires, according the New Mexico Wildfire Review Report. The cessation of tree harvesting and insufficient fire prevention programs contributed significantly to the potency of wildfires.
The law proposed by extremist conservation groups ignores the data. Their suggestion to let fires burn is inconsistent with Seewald and Derr’s recommendation to implement more aggressive fire suppression protocols.
Every time a conservation group suggests an ill-thought piece of legislation, their credibility takes a dive. If extremists were more interested in balancing conservation efforts with human safety using the scientific resources available to them, they might approach more feasible solutions.
Some members of Congress are already ridiculing the proposal. The caucus’ preliminary discussion of the listing is rather disparaging towards adding woodpeckers to the Endangered Species list.
It should be. Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resources Council, said the bird didn’t need federal protection. The millions of acres that burn but aren’t salvaged provide plenty of new habitat each year, according to the Capital Press article.
Millions of acres apparently aren’t enough for conservation groups. What do they want, the whole country?
Smokey the Bear has taught us that “only you can prevent wildfires.” Failing to approve this listing might be an excellent place to start.
 


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