Fire Feedback: Our readers share their anger, concerns and theories

n Our readers share their anger, concerns and theories

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The historic Sperry Chalet building burned up on Aug. 31 in the Sprague Fire. (Glacier National Park photo)

The people want the fires put out

We the people of Montana need to stand up and be heard.

We the people of Montana do not want our forest fires simply “managed.”

We the people of Montana want all forest fires to be put out for the following reasons.

We do not want to waste a natural renewable resource timber, by letting it burn to the ground when it could be logged and provide valuable jobs and income to our state.

We do not want to see wildlife lose their lives or those that survive lose their habitat and starve to death in the winter.

We do not want to breath smoke all summer long and put our own health at risk.

We do not want to see our neighbors or friends or relatives or possibly ourselves lose our homes, pets and livestock.

We the people are sick and tired of the extreme environmentalist view that letting nature take its course is the best way to “manage” our forests.

We the people suspect that the huge amount of money spent fighting these fires is profiting people who also would like to see the fires burn uncontrollably.

We the people want these fires put out for all of the above reasons. —Joan Frank, Kalispell

Logging adds to fire spread

Our industry-serving politicians came to Lolo, Montana, to fan the wildfire flames with lies promoting logging. They ignored that this summer is again setting records for heat and lack of rain as the climate warms. They also ignored the fact that logging increases the rate of fire spread.

According to the Forest Service’s “Living with Fire” publication, fire spreads at 15 acres per hour in the dense conifer forests so demonized by the timber industry and our politicians. Thin those forests into an open pine forest and fire spreads at 150 acres per hour. Clearcuts with young trees spread fire at 650 acres per hour. Brush and grass spread fire at over 3,000 acres per hour.

Cut down trees and you get more brush and grass that dries out faster due to less shade and more exposure to wind. Research shows most of the carbon released by fire is from brush and the forest floor. Only 5 percent of large tree carbon is released because only the needles, bark and limbs burn. The tree trunks remain, continuing to store their carbon and providing absolutely essential habitats for wildlife — unless the same lying politicians force the Forest Service to log the dead trees.

Logging removes trees, their carbon and nutrients from the forest. Fire releases only a fraction of the trees’ carbon and returns nutrient-rich ash to the soil.

We have longer and more severe fire seasons due to global warming, not environmentalists. As a former logger and Forest Service firefighter, I think the politicians are putting up a smoke screen so their buddies can steal carbon-storing trees from our public forests. —Keith Hammer, Kalispell

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was received on Aug. 31, so some of its criticism of public official might be considered out of date at this time.)

Where are the public officials?

So why are all of our elected officials and candidates for office so silent about the smoke in Western Montana? Everyone is quick to the forefront about Houston’s problems, but most refuse to say one word as we drown in smoke. I say to them: Good luck asking for our support when election time rolls around again.

This smoke is ridiculous! Fires can be prevented and controlled, but nothing will happen if our elected “leaders” cower in silence. Sen. Tester, of course, couldn’t care less about our smoke as he is in the pocket of the far left “let it burn” organizations. For all of them it is just necessary “collateral damage.” It’s the same with Gov. Bullock, who is basically worthless when it comes to taking on the federal government or the rabid environmental groups. But where is Daines? Hiding silently as usual trying not to create any controversy? And Gianforte? Now elected, as happens so often, it appears he has forgotten who elected him.

Most irritating is our county commissioners, who are missing in action. They were elected to see after the health and welfare of the residents of Flathead County. They have the most power and influence (or should have) yet they continue to hide inside the safety of their offices hoping their silence won’t be noticed. Sorry but it is.

Similarly, our candidates for political office emulate this trend. Instead of taking bold new stands that could help us, they slink into the background apparently afraid of tackling an issue of this magnitude.

Yet all of these people want and expect our support for their own political aspirations. I have a suggestion: When these political officials and candidates start their runs for political election or reelection, we greet them in kind — with the sounds of silence. It seems only fair. —Mark Agather, Kalispell

Rising to the challenge

When times are tough, Montanans rise to the challenge. That’s what we do.

And that’s been the case during a difficult wildfire season that has touched all corners of our state. Neighbors have helped neighbors, donating hay, offering up a safe place to stay and a warm meal.

They’ve also opened their pocketbooks, donating thousands to Montana Red Cross. This allowed us to provide food, shelter and comfort to those who have been forced to evacuate their homes, sometimes with little warning. We have opened 16 shelters since July, and our Red Cross volunteers are working around the clock to ensure everyone facing these evacuations is safe and comfortable.

Earlier this week, the Red Cross deployed an emergency response vehicle stocked with food, water, blankets and hygiene kits that is traveling around the Seeley Lake and Ovando area to ensure the evacuees’ needs are met.

And it’s not just those in our own backyard who Montanans have rallied to support. We also helped those hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, donating thousands more to Red Cross relief efforts in Texas and Louisiana.

We can’t thank our donors and volunteers enough for their generosity, felt by so many here at home and across the country. You are truly making a difference.

If you too would like to donate to the Red Cross of Montana visit redcross.org/montana, call 800-272-6668 or send a check to American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th St. S., Great Falls, MT 59405. —Tom Wozniak, Missoula, board chairman, American Red Cross of Montana

Where is help?

I totally agree with Larry Stolte and Jerry Olson regarding the fires in the Flathead Valley.

It appears the fires have not been attacked early or aggressively enough and the loss of homes and now historic Sperry Chalet, where I have spent time since I was 6 years old, is gone.

Where are our National Guard and bombers with retardant? Where is our federal help?

The state is stretched so thin that new fires aren’t being fought! We are losing what people love about Montana — the land ...

Thousand are suffering and where is our help? —Heather Sullivan, Kalispell

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