Why We Need Hearings in Congress on Wildfire

Why We Need Hearings in Congress on Wildfire

09 June 2014

published by www.opednews.com

USA — What is it going to take to change the fire-suppression culture of the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service to culture of good fire management? Obviously, it’s going to take much more pain and suffering, loss of life and property, to get hearing in Congress. In addition, it will take well-informed Congressmen and Senators to put the tough questions to the leadership of the public land-management agencies.
Land-management leadership can’t be allowed and should not be able to avoid their responsibility for the continued increases in wildfire destruction in the Western United States. We don’t want the public land-management leaders avoiding their responsibilities by making excuses to Congress blaming arson, terrorists, global warming, drought, high winds, lack of funds, or lightning for the current national catastrophe.

If we are going to save and or restore the hundreds of millions of acres of severely degraded light-fire ecosystems in the Western United States, we have to introduce prescribed fire in a massive and periodic way for the foreseeable future. It’s going to cost tens of billions of dollars if not hundreds of billions of dollars but in the long run the investment will pay for itself in a dramatic reduction in wildfire-suppression costs. Right now wildfire-suppression costs are just throwing billions of dollars away putting off and setting the stage for even more massive conflagrations in the future.

According to the statistics in Wildfire Today [4], the average number of acres devastated by wildfire in the United States lower 48 has risen steadily from above 2 million acres in 1990 to above 6 million acres in 2013. An article in Headwaters Economics [5] states that U.S. National wildfire-fighting costs have averaged $1.8 billion annually for the past five years, with costs are set to explode to between $2.3 and $4.3 billion.
I really think the only way that a good fire-management culture is to be established, on these our public lands, is for heads to roll in the upper echelons of all the public land-management agencies much like what is happening the Department of Veterans Affairs. Of course, there is going to be blowback on members of Congress and the special wildfire interests that lobby for more fire suppression and more expensive tanker planes that do little more than give good public relations to a dysfunctional fire-suppression culture.

Part of the problem is that the fledgling good fire-management sub-culture embedded in the larger dysfunctional fire-suppression culture has no money and resources to lobby for the massive amount of controlled burning (prescribed fire) necessary to turn things around. This fledgling good fire-management culture has no money for a huge decade’s long awareness program to address the decade’s long assault on public consciousness by the United States Forest Service baseless anti-fire propaganda. The research proving Smokey wrong has been done; now it is time for a pro-fire public-relations operation based on good scientific research.
Smokey the Bear Forest Service anti-fire propaganda for decades has dumbed down the general public including political leaders and the regulatory and environmental groups to a point where these leaders now regularly obstruct prescribed fire burns. The result is a loss of endangered-species habitat and old-growth forests along with the general destruction and conflagration of decaying and diseased light-fire ecosystems in general.

I wrote my just released new book Fire In Nature, A Fire Activist’s Guide and made it free on its website. I think anybody who takes the time to read this well-researched book will have come a long way towards a comprehensive understanding of the fire issue. I sacrificed a substantial advance by self-publishing and making the book free in order to try to reach as many people as possible. I feel it necessary follow up on my father and his associate’s work of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The book starts with almost 500 million years of fire history and proceeds into the present with solutions to the catastrophic wildfire emergency that should be addressed immediately.

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