Don’t be fooled by the AP article on smoke from Western wildfires, which attributes more smoke in our region to “climate change” (whatever that is). In reality, the cause is the poor management practices of the Forest Service relative to our forests who fail to realize that first and foremost, there must be a commitment to put the fires out immediately. There is no such thing as “managing” a forest fire.
In the 50s and 60s, the Forest Service knew the key to controlling wildfire — put them out and put them out immediately. They knew if a fire got over 10 acres, the chances of it getting out of control increased astronomically. They also knew forests needed to be logged in a way to emulate nature’s use of fire to clear cut and selective cut our forests. And finally, they knew that access to our forests with roads was mandatory if fires were to be kept to a minimum.
In those days, the forest service and the logging community worked together to accomplish the goal of healthy forests and minimal wildfires. When a fire was spotted, everyone got to it as quickly as possible to put it out before it spread. Now, the Forest Service evaluates a wildfire for up to as much as 24 hours (or even longer) before even getting someone to respond. Frequently, in that period of time fires grow exponentially getting to a size where putting them out is beyond question.
On top of that, the Forest Service has actively destroyed roads and other access so that getting people and resources to the fire is nearly impossible. With all that bureaucratic incompetence, it’s no wonder we now have months of smoke from wildfires.
Active management of our forests through scientific logging with road access to all parts of our public lands is particularly mandatory if you believe in the narrative of “global warming.” If you think it is getting warmer and drier out, then the need to initiate policies that minimize wildfires if even more imperative. As the article dramatically points out, the smoke from wildfires is a terrible health hazard, far worse than smoking.
No, it’s not global warming that is creating all that smoke every year — it’s the inept policies of the Forest Service which bows to the environmental extremists who want to manage our forests as wilderness. We can have pure air again in our summers but not until we, the citizens of Montana take over management of all of our public lands or, at the very least, demand some sanity from the Forest Service in its approach to our forest’s health. After all, as the liberal left likes to say, pure air is our natural right and shouldn’t be just a hope.
Mark Agather lives in Kalispell