ARIZONA FOREST FIRES AND THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS
As one Show Low, Az resident stated. "I blame the environmentalists for these fires! The land had not been cleared or clean out for the last 10-15 years. There was alot of accumulations of dead brush and overgrowth.
Two Ariz. Wildfire Merge to Form 50-Mile Blaze Sunday June 23, 2002
AZ FIRES - MSG BOARD AND CONTACT INFO:
The environmentalists & the courts have stopped us from cleaning up for fires. -Az. Gov Jane Hull
Arizona Wildfires Out of Control
Smoke from Arizona fires extends over three other states
(NOAA satellite image)
Arizona Wildfire Videos
Terrified Show Low scatters
(My message to the environmentalists: "you say, "Have you hugged a tree today?" We have lost over 300,000 acres of beautiful trees in the last few days over what you call preserving the wilderness. You are the nation's destroyers of God's given wilderness areas and wild animals who are to survive there!!)
I lost a summer home in those White Mountains! And so did many others! It is a sad week in the history of this country when we loose such a beautiful place to environmentalists & courts ignorance. - editor)
This website was intended for publishing information and assisting the victims of AZ wildfires, until Friday June 28, 2002 when I received a call from an Overgaard/Heber resident/business person drove for 10+ miles to a phone and was very upset in the way everything was going. This person was one of the witnesses to the events of those who LET the WALL of fire come up to these mentioned towns, which includes all the dis-information that was fed to the media. These witnesses were prepared to make a fire line miles down the road to deter the wildfires from entering Overgaard/Heber and were stopped, allowing them to only watch "this wall of fire" coming to destroy their homes, this person said.
AZ FIRES - MSG BOARD AND CONTACT INFO:
Chat area. Please help spread the word
about our site! We want this to be a place
for everyone to make contact and gather
first hand information on the fire. Due to
the serious nature if the rodeo incident,
Please only post accurate information on
the site, I have left the membership open
and public for all ! Rember this is a open
fourm and anyone can post anything but
please, only serious stuff here.
WE NEED HELP GETTING THIS SITE OUT TO
EVERYONE! Please email this site to others
in the White Mountains and across the country.
If you have ANY information that is credable, and may be of
some those affected by the rodeo fire PLEASE post it in the
message board! I as well as others can only rely on national
new reports and the inter net. DIRECT first hand information
is needed in a bad way. Many people around the world are
searching for information on their family, loved ones and
----- Original Message -----From: "W.G.E.N." <email@example.com>To:
<firstname.lastname@example.org>Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 7:22 PMSubject: FIRES: Re:
Fires Burning in America - from buckland Folks,
Here is another *personal report* from the FIRES zone. Pay attention to
these personal reports - they seldom make the major media and are not
subject to some reporter/editors spin.
Many thanks to all who have taken the time to let us know the true story
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 13:39:15 -0600
Subject: Fw: Re: Fires Burning in America
From: gary l buckland <email@example.com>
Dear Jackie - It is a hobby of mine to "flip over" a lot of government
"rocks" and see what crawls out. There is no end to the "plain stupidity"
that you can find - with ease.
Your article just points out a "drop in the ocean" as to what you can
find on an HOURLY basis. Common sense is not very common - if you don't
already know it.
You asked for comments about the Hayman fire that started just west of
Woodland Park , CO. I live in Colorado Springs , CO - and own land just
a few miles south of where the fire started. The only thing that saved
us, this time, was wind direction - but it "ain't" over yet.
A local news paper columnist (Rich Tosches) wrote an article about an
absurd incident in which the Hayman fire could have easily been stopped
before it could do so much damage.
Let me preface by saying - I have spent 35 years in the heavy equipment
business - 25 of which were with the Caterpillar organization. I know
equipment !!. Mr. Tosches "article" mentions Caterpillar D 10's. I
can tell you more about a D 10 than you really care to know. A local
gold mining company ( one of my ex customers ) offered [ at no cost ] to
furnish 2 of these Large crawler dozers in order to stop the Hayman fire
before it became a raging inferno. They were being good neighbors ,in the
best of the western tradition, by offering this million dollars worth of
equipment - at a significant cost to themselves.
Their offer was refused !!!!!! The official reason - "We wouldn't want
to scar the land with a blade that big". The eventual cost of this
stupidity was far , far more costly than any D 10 would have caused.
These 2 machines could have cleared more fire line in a few hours than it
took 2500 firefighters 2 weeks to clear. This is a pure and simple case
of having "Amateurs" in positions of responsibility. Monday morning
quarter backing - "NO" - just a matter of common sense. Bone dry
conditions - extreme low humidity - wind - and miles and miles of timber
- with no real access or natural barriers.
The gold company was also told that their "dozer operators" were not
"CERTIFIED FIREFIGHTERS". The company said "fine - put your own
"operators" on the dozers.
Their offer was still rejected. The results of all this is there for the
I am the son of a Kansas Pioneer - we fought ( as good neighbors) grass
prairie fires long before most of the United States citizenry were even
born. We did not need "Certified Firefighters" to come in and "make
judgements" for us. It was just a matter of common sense and cooperation
- something that seems to be in short supply with our various government
departments - national and local. We did not have D 10's then - but if
we had them you can bet your assets that we would have used them.
From what I have read - there are many of the same type situations that
were present at the other large fires in Durango CO, and Show Low, AZ.
What this ALL about is "turf" ---- budgets - incompetent bureaucrats -
and self "sustaining bureaucracies" - the old pay check thing.
Should someone be held "criminally liable" - you can literally bet your
100 years ago - you would have found them "hanging" from a tree - that
had not burned yet.
You wanted suggestions - this is mine.
Two enormous, wind-driven wildfires were believed to have merged into a 50-mile-long line of flame advancing through paper-dry forest in eastern Arizona. About 235,000 acres 367 square miles have burned since Thursday, and as many as 25,000 people have fled homes in more than half a dozen towns. It was unclear how many homes have been destroyed.
Show Low's 7,700 residents were ordered out late Saturday after the flames jumped a fire line crews were building about eight miles west of town, and the 3,500 residents of neighboring Pinetop-Lakeside followed early Sunday.
Firefighters expected the fire to reach the westernmost neighborhoods of Show Low by midday, Paxon said. In Linden, a small town just west of Show Low that was already evacuated, firefighters sprayed foam and wrapped houses in fireproof material as flames pushed through.
"Nature's in control," fire spokesman Jim Paxon said. "She's dealing the hand."
The wildfires had burned through parts of the evacuated towns of Pinedale and Clay Springs, and flames broke through a bulldozed line Saturday night and into Heber-Overgaard, an already-evacuated community of 2,700. Air tankers dropped slurry directly on homes in a last-ditch effort to save them.
Fires merge into wall of flame
250,000 acres and counting
By Judd Slivka, Kristen Go, Pat Flannery and Jon Sidener
The Arizona Republic
June 23, 2002 12:00:00
Two raging Arizona wildfires merged Saturday to create the largest fire in the nation, bursting into Heber and Overgaard and forcing the evening evacuation of Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside and Hon Dah.
The union of the "Rodeo" and "Chediski" fires creates a 250,000-acre fire with a 50-mile-long firefront, enough to stretch from Mesa to Glendale. There is no hope of containment in sight.
The fire was moving toward Linden and expected to reach the town by 6 a.m. today. The blaze is expected to enter Show Low on Monday. "The monster reared its head today, and the dragon blew its fire," firefighter spokesman Jim Paxon said at the end of the day. The Rodeo fire has burned 200,000 acres, and the Chediski fire topped 50,000 acres, a total of 390 square miles, which is nearly the size of Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale. More than 30,000 people are out of their homes.
Because of today's events, the Arizona fires, which had been overshadowed by the ones in Colorado, were gaining priority, Paxon said. He said the state will be getting more resources today. Paxon requested more helicopters and Type 1 hotshot crews. The Colorado fires totaled 213,000 acres.
The blazes ravaged the Mogollon Rim area for days, and Saturday they set their sights on some of Arizona's oldest towns.
"Heber's on fire," Navajo County Manager Eddie Koury said.
Fire also raged across Arizona 260 in Overgaard, and crews that had been working to save buildings pulled out to safety. Flames covered about two miles on the eastern edge of Overgaard, claiming numerous structures and closing to within 200 yards of a U.S. Forest Ranger Station. "The fire kicked all of our butts," Paxon said.
Officials weren't sure how many homes and businesses burned in the towns, but they figured at least 50 homes have been destroyed since Tuesday. Heber-Overgaard has a population of about 2,700, while neighboring communities have a summertime population of about 20,000. There are about 6,500 homes and businesses in the area, Navajo County officials said. Gov. Jane Hull, who owns a cabin in Pinetop-Lakeside, was planning to meet with fire officials this morning to review the battle plan for the out-of-control fire. About 1,200 to 1,400 are working the fires, but it's so hot, they can't get close to it. "They can't put people in a fire that's so hot, it will endanger their lives," Hull said. She talked to President Bush on Friday about federal aid and she expects him to issue a federal disaster declaration for the state today. "My heart goes out for the people that have lost their home," she said, but, "property is replaceable, and the good news is that there have been no lives lost." "I've been here for almost 40 years, and I've never seen anything like what is going on up north right now," she said.
While Heber and Overgaard burned, others tried to flee its path.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the traffic was bumper to bumper on the main drag in Show Low after residents were ordered to leave. The 10,000 residents were told they had five to eight hours to get out.
By 10 p.m., Show Low was a ghost town, with ash falling on the streets.
Some had tied white towels or sheets to their front doors to signal firefighters that they were gone.
"We just moved here from California two years ago for some peace and quiet," Jim Price said as he made last minute decisions about what to pack into his mini-van. Price, his wife and four children headed to shelter in Eagar.
Cyndel McReynolds, 47, who registered to spend the night in Holbrook High School's gymnasium, said her family of seven was able to evacuate her west Show Low home within 40 minutes after the 7 p.m. evacuation order was given.
"They encouraged us to go to Eagar, but I didn't want any part of that," McReynolds said. "I think this fire is going to burn all the way east through the trees to New Mexico, and Eagar is much too close to the tree line."
McReynolds said she had been preparing for two days to evacuate. "I'm far too close to the forest and there are too many trees by my house for there to be any comfort level," McReynolds said.
In the Timberlane subdivision about four miles west of Show Low, at least two structures had burned. Crews were working the area overnight to try to save the 250 homes there. Another 10,000 were evacuated in Pinetop-Lakeside later Saturday. Officials were urging people not to return home soon to assess damage. Francie Noyes, press secretary for Hull, said it's going to be a slow process getting information to people, but urged patience. Optimism early in the day changed to hopelessness by late afternoon. "We lost the race," Paxon said after flames swept over Juniper Ridge and triggered the Show Low evacuation. "Nature's very much in control." Five engine crews, seven bulldozers and at least two hand crews were working feverishly in Juniper Ridge to build a line that would prevent the fire from entering Show Low and from crossing Hop Canyon. But the fire that was creeping along hit Limestone Ridge in the late afternoon and started gaining energy, roaring from one-quarter mph to 1 mph.
At one point, flames were within a half-mile of crews, but the fire was burning more intensely by nightfall, which is usually when fires lose strength because of decreases in heat and wind. Firefighters raced to nearby Taylor to try to protect buildings as flames closed to within 10 miles of the town, while others prepared to protect those in Show Low.
They remembered all too well the images of homes already burning by the fire about four to five miles from Show Low.
"Going gunnysack" is firefighter shorthand for the time when everything is going to hell, and Saturday, it did.
The fire was crowning, running hard through the tops of trees. At one point the windy afternoon became oddly still as the fire approached. "We need to start pulling out now, we need to go," the order squawked across fire radios.
In the one subdivision, three distinct columns slanted to the northeast, the thick black smoke signifying that a fire is burning very, very hot. Fire officials studied the relentless fires, projecting that in a worst-case scenario, the fire could reach 480,000 acres. Hull said the tragedy highlights the need to change the state's forest management plan.
"Mother Nature is sending out a very strong message: These forests need to be cleaned out," she said. "This is absolutely not the balance of nature is supposed to be. These policies out of Washington and out of the courts have got to stop. The West is burning, and it's something we've been predicting would happen for as long as I've been governor."
By midday Saturday, it was clear that such fears were reality, that Rodeo and Chediski were poised to create a day Arizona's high country would not soon forget. Shifting winds changed the tenor of firefighters from a morning of optimism into an afternoon of concern.
"We flew the fire, and we looked down and there was five to eight miles of continuous flame," said Mike Behrens, a division supervisor on the team fighting the fire. Soon, crews were being pulled back from their positions, a turn in the classic battle attacked by ground and by air to try and outflank and outwit the fire. But fueled by a dry winter, the summer playground for Phoenix residents is vulnerable, and the fires obliged. One may have been sparked by arson, the other began when a lost hiker lit a signal fire for help. Paxon, a spokesman for the firefighting team, couldn't estimate how long it might take to gain hold of the fires. "There is no doubt we will quit this fire, but it's going to take time," he said.
Weather conditions for today will be dryer, with temperatures 1 or 2 degrees hotter. Winds are expected to be out of the west at about 8 mph. Communities between the Mogollon Rim and the town of Young are on evacuation notice. Those on notice include Colcord, Forest Lakes, Gordon Canyon, Ponderosa Springs, Higler Creek and Alderwood.
Paxon expects that fire crews will stay in the White Mountains through the summer. And a sobering note, he added, is this:
"This isn't going to be the last one."
Republic staff members Chris Fiscus, Justin Juozapavicius, Hernan Rozemberg and Mark Shaffer contributed to this report.
Overgaard and Heber steeped in history
The Arizona Republic
June 23, 2002 12:00:00
On Saturday, the "Rodeo" inferno rode heartlessly over Heber and Overgaard, a 7-square-mile area in the Sitgreaves National Forest where 2,722 people live permanently and hundreds of others vacation to escape the desert heat.
Eva Juarez, 32, owner of La Cocina de Eva in Taylor, about 20 miles north of Show Low, said her restaurant was overflowing with evacuees from Heber and Snowflake on Saturday night.
"It's very hard on everyone, but there's not much we can do now except feed them," said Juarez, who is also concerned about evacuating herself as the fire continues to spread.
Saturday's disaster illustrates how fire not only destroys homes and resources, it also sweeps away history.
The Heber-Overgaard area was a steppingstone in Western history.
The area was founded in 1883 as a result of the great Mormon migration of 1876 to the Little Colorado River settlements.
Heber was named after Heber J. Grant, a prominent member of the Mormon Church.
The post office there was established in 1890 by James E. Shelley, who co-founded the community along with Sanford Porter Jr.
Just north of the Mogollon Rim at an elevation of 6,500 feet, the area remained a Mormon stronghold.
But gradually people of all beliefs settled in Heber for its cool, clean air, sweetly scented pines and plentiful wildlife, including deer, elk, antelope, turkey and bear.
The community is also popular with boating and fishing enthusiasts, who enjoy the many nearby man-made lakes.
"It's an incomprehensible tragedy," said Don Evans, 54, of Mesa, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Phoenix.
"It is a sad day (for those) who currently live there as well as for history," Evans said.
Heber and Overgaard are family oriented communities. Although the area the two towns occupy is no larger than Cave Creek, there are many community facilities, including a library, 40-acre park, Little League fields, tennis courts and a golf course.
Heber and Overgaard have two elementary schools, a junior high and high school. Student enrollment is approximately 551.
Northland Pioneer College, a nationally accredited, state-supported community college, began serving Navajo County in 1974.
The verdant Heber Ranger Station, a popular rest stop for weary drivers and pets, is in Overgaard.
What happens to all the wildlife in a big forest fire, not just big animals, but little ones like mice or snakes?
Generally, the immediate impact of even a big fire on animals is minimal, although it depends on the nature of the fire, according to Joe Janisch of the state Game and Fish Department.
Birds, of course, fly away. Big mammals, such as deer or bear, smell the smoke and get out of the way. When the rains come, and the burned area greens up again, they return. In the meantime, there can be some competition problems with other animals in the areas where the displaced critters relocate.
A fire skipping from treetop to treetop won't affect smaller animals much. Even if a fire is roaring through a lot of dead wood and leaf litter on the ground, snakes and chipmunks and so forth usually can survive by taking to their burrows. However, a really hot fire can heat up the ground as deep as seven inches, so sometimes they have to go down pretty far to survive.
Residents depart as the late afternoon sun illuminates the smoke from the approaching Rodeo wildfire Saturday, June 22, 2002, in Show Low, Ariz. Rodeo and the Chedeski wildfires have forced several communities in the area to evacuate. (AP Photo/Ric Francis) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020623/168/1qjpc.html
Arizona fires worsen; 4 dead in crash of van carrying Colorado fire crews
AP Photo/Matt York
Flames from the Rodeo Fire burn outside Show Low, Ariz., on Thursday, June 20, 2002.
SHOW LOW, Ariz. (June 22, 2002 12:56 a.m. EDT) - Fanned by blowtorch winds, two explosive wildfires took double-barreled aim at Arizona mountain towns Friday as firefighters desperately cleared brush and doused homes with flame-retardant foam.
The frantic work was being done in Clay Springs and Pinedale, where the 128,000-acre Rodeo fire had already destroyed at least a dozen homes. Officials feared the blaze would merge with a fast-moving, 15,000-acre fire farther west, creating an even bigger challenge for already overwhelmed firefighters.
In Colorado, a van carrying fire crews to help contain a 137,000-acre wildfire southwest of Denver crashed Friday night, killing four passengers, state police said. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Three wildfires have burned more than 205,000 acres in Colorado and destroyed at least 141 homes. Thousands of people remained out of their homes.
In Arizona, some 8,000 people have been evacuated from Pinedale, Clay Springs, Linden and a community farther west since Wednesday. An additional 11,000 people in and around Show Low were told to be ready to evacuate.
Temperatures rose into the high 80s, and wind gusts neared 45 mph with low humidity. Officials said the mix of weather and bone-dry trees was a recipe for an inferno.
"The forest is burning like you're pouring gasoline on it, and the wind is like taking a blowtorch to it," fire spokesman Jim Paxon said in Show Low, 10 miles east of the threatened towns. "This fire's going to rear its ugly head again and grow."
He added: "It's a situation that shouts, 'Watch out!' It raises the hair on your skin."
About 100 homeowners in Linden and Clay Springs have refused to leave, Paxon said. He warned that they could become trapped by flames.
"We will not put firefighters at risk to go in and get them out," he said. "When houses burn, it's too late to try to escape. Those people are going to be pretty well pinned in."
On the first day of summer, the wildfire situation across the West already appeared desperate, in large part because of severe drought. The government's National Interagency Fire Center said 1.99 million acres have burned across the country so far this year - double the 10-year average - and fire officials said their resources were stretched thin.
The Rodeo fire began Tuesday and it has simply exploded, racing through parched stands of pine, juniper and pinon trees right to the edge of Clay Springs and Linden.
Shasta Perkins fled Linden with her sister, brother and parents. They have been holed up since Wednesday in Show Low, awaiting word about their home and whether they may be forced to leave once more.
"You get upset and then you hear a bit of good news and you're joyful for that," she said. "Then you hear something else, and it brings you back down."
"I never thought of losing anything to fire," said her grandfather, Pete Peterson, who has lived in the area for 80 years. "Now you realize we should take northern Arizona right off the map. How are you going to sell black land?"
As they spoke, fire crews dug lines around a canyon southwest of Show Low to try to stop the blaze from reaching the town, which serves as the commercial hub of the area 125 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Authorities hoped the Rodeo fire would not merge with the second fire near Heber-Overgaard, which forced fire crews to abandon their efforts Friday afternoon. That blaze has already forced 4,000 people out of their homes, and crews were trying to stop its spread to the south and west - toward the Rodeo fire, only a few miles away.
The second fire was started by a lost hiker signaling for help. The first also was thought to be manmade, though authorities did not know whether it was an accident or arson.
Gov. Jane Hull on Friday asked President Bush for an emergency declaration, which would allow the federal government to provide money to help cover the costs of damage caused by the fires.
The fires have rattled nerves across a normally tranquil region known for its mountains and mild weather. Nestled against the White Mountains, the area is a major draw for hikers and campers and serves as a summer getaway for city dwellers escaping the heat in Phoenix.
In southwestern Colorado, wind pushed a fire northeast of Durango to 60,000 acres. Fire officials said it burned 14 more homes, bringing the total estimated lost to 47. More than 1,760 homes have been evacuated.
Some firefighters had to retreat. "They saw some stuff they've never seen before," said Bill Paxton, a fire information officer.
About 70 miles away, another fire grew to 8,000 acres and destroyed 11 homes near the community of South Fork. It has forced 300 people from their homes.
Colorado's biggest fire, the 137,000-acre blaze southwest of Denver, was relatively quiet for a second consecutive day. It has forced 8,900 people from their homes since it began June 8 and destroyed at least 79 homes.
In Arizona, the extent of the damage in Pinedale was not immediately known and officials hoped to get a better look Friday. Firefighter Alma Leithead said he had seen mobile homes that appeared to be melted and the foundations of homes.
"It's horrible to see," he said.
Arizona Governor Declares State of Emergency
Uncontrolled forest fires initiate response, closing Maricopa County criminal courts. Read Admin. Order
Forests overgrown with underbrush
June 23, 2002
WILDLAND FIRE - Any non-structure fire, other than prescribed fire, that occurs in the wildland. Wildland fires on private land are often not reported through the established system. Therefore, they may not get posted to this map. The map below displays only those fires 100 acres or greater.
TUCSON, AZ April-May 2002
Arizona wildfires close part of highway
TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- Wind-driven wildfire rushed across 9,000 acres of dry grass and oak brush in southern Arizona on Tuesday, threatening at least 100 buildings, fire officials said.
At least a dozen homes and ranches were evacuated as a precaution in the rural area about 40 miles southeast of Tucson, and part of state Highway 83 was closed.
Forest Service spokesman Steve Plevel said that 25 mph to 30 mph wind gusts were fanning the Coronado National Forest blaze, which was about 5 percent contained Tuesday.
"We know that with this wind that it's moving very fast and we haven't been able to keep up with it," Plevel said.
As of midafternoon, no structures had burned and no injuries were reported, he said.
Earlier, a forest spokeswoman said that the fire, then estimated at 3,500 acres, was a threat to at least 100 structures -- 75 of them homes.
The fire started Monday in rugged terrain in the Canelo Hills of the Huachuca Mountains.
Farther north, a wildfire in the Superstition Wilderness in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix had charred about 20 acres by Tuesday.
That fire, which was about 50 percent contained, was probably caused by a hiker or camper, Tonto spokesman Stanton Florea said.
Burn, baby, burn!
Posted: June 22, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Yellowstone got our attention when it went up in smoke more than a decade ago. Each year, the fires seem to get worse.
If it's not California burning, it's New Mexico, or Idaho, or Arizona, or Colorado. Beautiful forests reduced to ashes. Homes destroyed. Animals roasted. Firefighters often young volunteers sacrificed needlessly on the altar of "wilderness." On June 19, 2002, more than a half-million acres were burning in seven states. And the fire season is just beginning.
How did the eco-zealots convince a generation of people and lawmakers that it is a good thing to deny people access to their forests, their lumber and minerals, and instead, allow the fuel to accumulate so it can explode into devastating waste?
It is not a good thing. Once, foresters were taught to build firebreaks roads through the forests to stop or slow a fire's progress and to provide access for firefighters.
But no. Eco-zealots claimed that roads in forests are not "natural." School children are told that cutting down a tree is the same as murder. They are told that mining is the same as raping the earth. They are brainwashed with this propaganda every day. What nonsense!
The eco-zealots have been very successful. California Sen. Barbara Boxer continues her annual push for more "wilderness," where trees can be worshiped rather than be used at least for a while and then turned into charcoal. Bill Clinton's 58-million-acre "roadless" initiative continues to remove access roads to "wilderness," so it, too, can grow rich with fuel for future fires.
What Congress passes for environmental protection policy often turns out to be environmental destruction. What eco-zealots call "conservation biology" is little more than Gaia worship, seasoned with a splash of science. What many level-headed people are coming to believe is that this eco-zealot hogwash is, at best, wrong-headed and, at worst, just plain stupid.
It's time to recognize this eco-foolishness for what it is, and move on to a common-sense, free enterprise basis for land management and environmental policy.
Property rights and resource-use organizations have been popping up all across the country in recent years to try to counter the influence of the eco-zealot organizations. Leaders of many of these groups met in Alamogordo, N.M., last month to begin developing a national, coordinated strategy. These groups will meet again in Nashville, Tenn., in July to hammer out a plan of action to better coordinate the energy and efforts of hundreds of thousands of people who want relief from the policies imposed to appease the eco-fanatics.
Green groups are 20 years ahead of the property rights resource-use groups. Coordinated funding through the Environmental Grantmakers Association provides these groups with millions of dollars each year. Moreover, these groups have learned the art of corporate welfare.
The Nature Conservancy alone received more than $80 million in government grants during the last Clinton term. This organization was one of five green groups named as "executing agency or collaborating organization" in more than $800 million in grants from the U.N.'s Global Environment Facility in a single year.
The groups meeting in Nashville next month have no such "sugar daddies." What they have is determination, conviction, principle and common sense. They have no zillion-dollar headquarters in D.C.; they don't fly around the world to perform street-theater to protest progress; they don't blow up ski lodges and research facilities; they don't hire public relations firms to conduct expensive ad campaigns; and they don't take congressmen on junkets or to fancy dinners.
What they do is learn the facts, talk to their neighbors, hold neighborhood meetings, meet with their local elected officials, write letters to the editor, monitor their legislators and vote. And they vote with a passion. They care how candidates have voted in the past, and they care enough to find out how new candidates feel about the issues that concern them.
Green groups have scoffed at their rag-tag counterparts in the past. Green groups spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to discredit their counterparts, calling them "industry-front" groups, while knowing full well that it is a lie.
Eco-zealots may be nearing the end of their era of uncontested influence. People are wising up. Why should we pay millions of dollars per wolf to reintroduce this species when the human species still needs food and shelter? Why should we spend millions of dollars for the government to buy up more land when it can't manage the land it already owns?
Why should we continue to put more and more land into wilderness simply to let it burn?
Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International.
FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
U.S. Announces Flawed Policy to Address Raging Natural Wildfires
Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.
http://forests.org/ -- Forest Conservation Portal
http://forests.org/links/ -- Forest Conservation Links
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Forests.org
Dozens of major wildfires are crackling their way across the Western
United States, as has occurred naturally for millennia. A new
agreement between federal agencies and the governors in 10 Western
states has been reached on how to prevent future wildfires. The plan
has some positive elements, including an emphasis upon managed burns
to restore natural disturbance regimes, that if properly implemented
may contribute positively to the well being of forest ecosystems.
But there are many environmentally regressive aspects to the plan;
and given the ecological ignorance of the Bush administration, it is
unlikely to be reasonably implemented. It is becoming widely
accepted that past fire suppression created unnatural fuel conditions
in our forests. The remedy under the plan is to mechanically thin
these forests to lower their fuel loads, the benefits of which are
far from certain. Recent research suggests that thinning as a means
to pursue fuel reduction is only likely to have an impact in forests
where crown fires were historically absent or infrequent. High-
intensity crown fires have long been known to be a natural occurrence
in higher-elevation forests in America's Western states. A
commentary piece below asserts, "we now know them to be a natural
part of lower-elevation forests as well. In fact, these fires are
essential to maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem."
In order to finance this dubious forest-thinning scheme, the Bush
administration is likely to allow the logging of large trees as well.
This is the real basis for the Bush/Norton forest-thinning remedy for
wildfires - political payback to extractive resource industries.
There is strong evidence that intensive logging causes fires to
increase in frequency and intensity. Commercial logging methods
increase the occurrence of wildfires by fragmenting forests and
opening up the forest canopy through road construction and removing
big, fire-resistant trees. Timber companies must not be allowed to
use fire prevention as justification for increased logging, which
would only exacerbate the problem.
The new wildfire policy ignores the reality that in many cases the
best policy would be to let the fires burn. Lightening strikes cause
most of the fires. Once started, firefighters and public land
managers can do little to stop some natural crown fires from
occurring. America's forests are naturally wild and often hazardous
places. We have chosen to protect them from development and must in
general accept the hazards along with the benefits that come from
Only recently has residential development in the hazard zone near
public lands become problematic. Those constructing building next to
natural forests - in many cases to enjoy the rustic, natural scenery
- have a responsibility to use readily available techniques to
fireproof their homes. If their structures are not defensible, why
should the public bear the cost of protecting them, and firefighters
risk their lives? Why should the management of public forests be
changed to protect carelessly constructed private property? The $ 2
billion National Fire Plan effectively shifts the cost of protecting
what are in many case trophy luxury homes to the public and to our
This plan needs to be redirected to letting fires burn naturally,
widely using prescribed burns that are in line with historical
disturbance regimes as the primary means to reduce fuel loads,
scaling down plans for mechanical thinning and ensuring no logging of
large trees occurs. Again, under no circumstances must timber
companies be allowed to use fire prevention as justification for
chopping down large, mature trees. Amazingly, many newspapers are
increasingly advocating these reasonable policies that are based upon
ecological science and common sense rather than upon political
expediency. Below can be found a selection of the best recent
editorials and commentary. For full coverage of the most recent fire
season in America's West and American forest conservation issues in
general see Forests.org's "United States of America Forest
Conservation News & Information" at http://forests.org/america/ -
part of the largest and most frequently used Forest Conservation
Portal on the Planet at http://forests.org/.
P.S. Media queries are welcome at 608 288-8102.
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Title: Bush plan catches fire
Source: Copyright 2001 The Denver Post
Date: August 16, 2001
President Bush's feel-good tour of Colorado this week did call
attention to one serious matter: A new agreement has been inked
between federal agencies and the governors in 10 Western states,
including Colorado, on how to prevent future catastrophic wildfires.
Bush's staged photo-op in Rocky Mountain National Park, which showed
the president whittling away at a tree branch, didn't begin to
illustrate the complexity of the problem, however.
Last year, wildfires burned 8.5 million acres of national forests and
other public lands. In response, Congress set aside funds for fire
prevention efforts by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land
Management and other agencies.
Then on Monday, the Western Governors Association and the federal
agencies signed an agreement to address the wildfire issue. The 20-
page document is sadly lean on details, but correctly emphasizes fire
prevention. In that regard, the plan Bush so proudly touted does in
fact represent progress on a contentious issue.
Yet the most important question, how to achieve the desired reduction
in fire hazard, remains partly unanswered.
Scientists, environmentalists and timber executives generally
acknowledge that the Forest Service and BLM must let some small,
natural fires burn and ignite other controlled burns to clear out
potential wildfire fuel such as deadwood and thick brush. But they
vehemently disagree on whether, how much and what kind of logging
should be part of the plan.
Indeed, environmental groups offer credible evidence that traditional
logging methods actually increased fire dangers because the
operations removed big, fire-resistant trees and left intact the very
materials most apt to ignite.
If logging is used to reduce the fire hazard, it must concentrate on
removing the unnatural build-up of these smaller forest materials.
But few profitable markets exist for such materials. Timber companies
thus claim they need to cut the larger trees so they can afford to do
the fire-prevention work, too. Environmentalists view such claims as
an excuse for the logging industry to return to the bad old days.
If the newly inked fire prevention plan is to carry any credibility,
state and federal agencies must deal with this issue directly. Timber
companies must not be allowed to use fire prevention as justification
for chopping down large, mature trees, unless for some unusual reason
such trees present a wildfire hazard in a specific location. Instead,
the government must encourage development of sustainable markets for
the smaller forest materials.
Ultimately, what's needed to resolve the disagreement is top
leadership. If he cares about the West, as he proclaimed in his
recent visit, Bush will keep wildfire prevention on his presidential
Title: A fire season debate
Source: Copyright 2001 The San Francisco Chronicle
Date: August 16, 2001
AN AREA 10 times the size of San Francisco is burning in California,
Oregon and Nevada. A total of 20,000 firefighters is wielding
shovels, driving bulldozers or piloting planes to douse flames at a
cost of $4 million per day. The costly and risky fire season has
The first response is safety. Fire crews are properly rushed to
danger points to contain wildfires before homes and humans are
threatened. A growing population has steadily moved into once-remote
areas and made the rescue job bigger than ever.
Now comes the hard part: planning for a future that minimizes forest-
fire damage. The current blazes are nearly all caused by lightning,
meaning the source won't go away. What can be done?
Some scientists and environmentalists favor letting some fires go
unchecked. The results replenish the soil, clear away underbrush and
restore nature's rough hand. A decade ago Yellowstone National Park
was allowed to burn, and regeneration is a spectacle worth seeing.
But for families who lost everything in last year's Los Alamos burn,
when foresters badly miscalculated, a natural burn was a searing
experiment. Also, timber companies want to log trees that might
Western governors and the Bush administration want a cautious
approach. The two sides signed a 10-year agreement to remove brush,
trees and combustible debris and teach fire safety to landowners.
There's no mention of letting fires run free because the notion
unsettles rural residents.
This is a welcome start but the follow-through will be crucial.
Timber firms should not exploit the notion of fire suppression to
engage in widespread logging.
Though political leaders are loath to talk up the idea, naturally
occurring fire could work in some cases. Firefighters will likely be
needed in many others because human habitation demands it. The West's
forests clearly need a new fresh approach to preserve their health.
Title: Should we protect private homes from forest fires?
Source: Copyright 2001 The Denver Post
Date: August 16, 2001
Byline: William L. Baker, GUEST COMMENTARY, Laramie, Wyo.
In the last few years, there have been serious, property-damaging
fires in the West in what has been dubbed the wildland-urban
interface, including large fires in Colorado, Montana and recently
near Jackson, Wyo. Millions of dollars in property remain at risk of
Federal land management agencies have responded by allocating almost
$ 2 billion to deal with the problem. But should public forests be
altered and firefighters put at risk to protect nearby private
Projects are proposed on public land in the Front Range to protect
property on adjoining private land in the wildland-urban interface,
primarily using thinning and fuel reduction. The public forest area
that would be affected, if every home in the interface is to be
protected, is potentially very large.
But recent research suggests that thinning and fuel reduction may be
at odds with the ecology of our forests, and may also be rather
futile. Our research group at the University of Wyoming has found
that ponderosa pine forests in Rocky Mountain National Park were
naturally subject to periodic, high-intensity crown fires during the
centuries before settlement by Euro-Americans. Research by Dr. Thomas
Veblen at the University of Colorado-Boulder suggests that high-
intensity fires may also have occurred before settlement throughout
the ponderosa pine forests of the Front Range, except at the lowest
elevations near the plains.
High-intensity crown fires have long been known to be a natural
occurrence in higher-elevation forests in our region, but we now know
them to be a natural part of lower-elevation forests as well. In
fact, these fires are essential to maintaining a healthy forest
We have been hearing that past fire suppression has created unnatural
fuel conditions in our forests, and the remedy now is to thin these
forests and lower their fuel loads. But this is really only known to
be true in forests where crown fires were uncommon or absent
historically. Thinning a forest naturally subject to high-intensity
crown fires might also, in theory, prevent some crown fires from
starting, but the actual evidence that this works is limited,
particularly when fire weather is severe.
More certain is that, once started, crown fires typically spread with
flames that can be 100 feet or more high. When these flames bend over
under the force of strong winds, as we often have in the Front Range,
they can easily cross large gaps, including those inside thinned
forests. Under extreme fire weather conditions, as we have seen in
some recent years and as has occurred at times in the past, natural
crown fires will occur in the forests of the Front Range wildland-
urban interface. Even if thinning our Front Range forests really
could lower the chance of natural crown fires, that is not
restoration any more than a flood-control dam on a river is
Employees of the federal agencies have a fine and honorable record of
fighting fires, with a remarkable dedication and willingness to take
risks. But firefighters and public land managers can really do little
more to stop some natural crown fires once started than weather
forecasters can do to stop a major flood. Public land management is
neither the source of the problem nor the source of the solution, as
our forests are naturally wild, hazardous places. We chose long ago
to protect them from development and to generally accept the hazards
along with the benefits that come with protection. Only recently has
development in this hazard zone near public lands created a problem.
We now face a reckoning about public and private rights and
responsibilities in the wildland-urban interface. Private property is
a sacred American value. But conservation of our valuable public
lands is also as American as flags, apple pie and barbecues. It's
time for private and public responsibilities in the interface zone to
It is at best irresponsible to shunt the cost and burden of difficult
fire protection for private property onto adjoining public lands,
especially when this may be ineffective and may require public
forests to be altered from their natural condition. Shouldn't private
citizens accept and personally manage a good share of the risk, if
they choose to build in dangerous locations near public forests?
If houses and their immediate vicinity are fire-proofed (see the
Firewise website at www.firewise.org), then certainly we must include
these houses in the shared community responsibility for fire
protection. But if structures are not defensible, why should we have
to put firefighters in harm's way? Why should there ever be an
expectation that public forests will be altered to protect adjoining
Communities, county governments, insurance agencies and concerned
citizens can develop incentives and disincentives to reshape the
balance of responsibility in the wildland-urban interface. There is
nothing unusual about requiring development to be responsible. It is
now common to ask development to pay its own way in our towns and
For too long we have ignored or miscalculated the costs of
development in the wildland-urban interface. Now the $ 2 billion
National Fire Plan effectively shifts these costs to the public and
to our forests. This plan needs to be redirected at the real need,
which is helping us to say 'no' to costly and irresponsible
development that threatens public lands in the wildland-urban
interface and that puts our firefighters at risk.
William L. Baker is an ecology professor in the Department of
Geography and Recreation at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Guest commentary submissions of 650 words may be sent to The Post
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PASSING BAD GAS
April 15, 2000
The extremists have struck again. When the Environmental Protection Agency approved methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in the late 1970s as a fuel oxygenate, that federal stamp of approval meant that the additive was safe for use across the country. Oil refineries began using the chemical to benefit the combustion process in gasoline-powered engines. But the politics of the environmentalists outpaced science.
Good intentions do not always beget good results. If so, all would be well in the world, areas of southern California would not have burned in wildfires, and our soil and water would not be poisoned from environmentalists over-exuberant ways.
The Malibu Wildfire of 1996 would have been avoided had it not been for the insistence of environmentalists that controlled burns are "ugly." When the fires swept through the dry foliage with the assistance of the Santa Ana Winds, homes, lives and millions of dollars worth of property were lost. Had it not been for the environmentalists the environment would have been protected.
Now that we have been able to determine atmospheric temperatures from centuries ago, we know that temperatures are below the one thousand year average. Nevertheless, environmentalists continue to push for measures that would stymie human progress under the myth of man-made global warming.
With the damage caused by MTBE, the pattern is once again the same: supposedly well-meaning extremists guide policy that is harmful to the environment. In the early 1990s, MTBE concentration in gasoline increased to 15% in some states. State governments believed the environmentalists at the EPA- and why not? Is not the government supposed to be working for the people? Are not the environmentalists at the EPA trying to protect the environment?
Given the propensity for states to sue manufacturers of legal products where personal responsibility is required, it will be interesting to see what actions these same attorneys general will take toward the contamination that has taken place in 38 states. Or is all well because the extremists were leftists who meant well?
Perhaps lessons can be learned. For example, we can learn from this that environmentalists have consistently supported policies that serve political causes but do not necessarily advance positive solutions to environmental challenges that confront humans. Human well-being is not a concern to a large number of environmentalists in this country.
Another lesson that we should have learned long ago is that bureaucracies and politicians are painfully slow moving beasts. Since we cannot undo the mistakes of over twenty years ago, what should have been done is irrelevant. However, MTBE should be banned immediately. The results of studies are in- including by several universities in the UC system- and there is no question that MTBE is the culprit in contaminated soil and well water.
Forget congressional committees. Hold a floor vote immediately. If we are to mitigate further damage we must act now. If Congress is not willing to act without delay, then EPA Administrator Carol Browner should insist upon action.
Instead, Browner has merely asked Congress to allow her agency to move to eliminate MTBE in heavily populated areas. Evidently rural folks can be contaminated without consequence. Meanwhile, no emergency votes have been scheduled in Washington and Congress has not voted to ban the substance.
Perhaps- just perhaps- the claims of environmentalists will be viewed with more skepticism and scrutiny. Perhaps time will be taken to completely understand the consequences of actions proposed by these extremists rather than blindly believing their shrill cries of doom.
While it is difficult to be optimistic that such scrutiny will be applied, it is noted with wry irony that Santa Monica, a city that is known nationwide for its leftist leanings, has suffered the fate of the wildfires and of contaminated well water due to the very extremism that the city is famous for propagating. Perhaps reason will spring forth against the environmentalists out of this hotbed of extremism. Perhaps.
Wildfires: Some ecologists are yielding to nature's fire logic
By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA -- AP Science Writer
With wildfires raging out of control in 13 Western states, Rex Wahl has seen enough. Like a peace-loving homesteader who finally reaches for his six-shooter, the influential environmentalist has unholstered his chain saw.
Wahl is ready to cut down trees to save the forest.
The executive director of Forest Guardians, an activist group based in Santa Fe, N.M., had long opposed the removal of any tree for profit or for managing nature.
Then he watched helplessly from his yard as a small, planned fire raged out of control at nearby Los Alamos in May. It charred 48,000 acres, destroyed 200 homes and caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.
"Wildfires are getting bigger, burning hotter, and the effects are more devastating," Wahl said. "It's clear we'll have to take mechanical steps like thinning before we can use fire to restore these forests to a more natural regime."
As of Thursday, 85 major wildfires were burning from Washington to Texas. More than 4 million acres have been blackened this summer, and eight firefighters have been killed. It is perhaps the worst fire season in the past 50 years, rivaling 1988 and the great Yellowstone blaze.
The wildfires are being blamed in part on a century of conflicting land management policies that researchers say have misunderstood or ignored fire's purpose in nature:
-- A longtime practice of putting out all fires instead of letting them burn has allowed flammable brush, dead wood and other fuel to accumulate waist-deep in some forests.
Tancredo blames environmentalists
By Bill McAllister
Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief
Friday, April 26, 2002 - WASHINGTON - A coalition of eight environmental groups bears a major responsibility for the Snaking wildfire, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., charged Thursday.
Tancredo accused the groups of blocking fire-suppression efforts that the U.S. Forest Service proposed 18 months ago in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, a project Tancredo said might have prevented the wildfire. The Forest Service wanted to thin brush and small trees that can fuel wildfires.
Environmentalists called Tancredo's charge "irresponsible," saying the thinning was planned far from the fire site and that they support thinning under the right circumstances.
Declaring that the fire could have a "disastrous" impact on water quality, Tancredo slammed the groups. "It just drives me crazy that these organizations that pose as friends of the environment are doing things that I think are bad for the environment," he said.
A thicket of politics clogs action
100 million public acres at risk
By Mike Soraghan
Denver Post Washington Bureau
Sunday, June 23, 2002 - WASHINGTON - Rep. Peter DeFazio is well-known for his zealous support of environmental causes, so he turned heads earlier this year when he pressed Forest Service leaders to start cutting trees in his district.
But the Oregon Democrat wasn't pushing for a clear-cut for logging companies. He wanted to know when his district's forest would be thinned to reduce fire danger.
DeFazio's pressure on the bureaucrats demonstrated the solid consensus in Congress that the hand of man is needed to weed out the undergrowth that fuels catastrophic forest fires.
Senate to hold hearings on wildfires
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
By United Press International
The U.S. Senate will launch an investigation next month into the cause of the largest wildfires in the history of the country, placing under the microscope U.S. Forest Service policy to balance competing logging and environmental concerns.
Environmentalists and timber companies and ranching interests say they are prepared to fight over the issue, which could allow the companies and government to "thin" millions of acres of national forests in the name of fire prevention.
BUSH SELECTIONS START WILDFIRES
Environmentalists and family farmers feel President-elect Bush is fueling contentiousness with his cabinet appointments. Progressive farm leaders are concerned his selection of Ann Venneman as US Dept. of Ag. Secretary is a signal that current corporate agribusiness domination of farming will continue. Now environmentalists are expecting a battle as well. Topping the list of suspect nominations for environmentally sensitive positions is Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. Norton worked closely with ousted former Secretary of Interior James Watt, both in government and at the right-wing legal think tank, the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The Southwest Area Wildland Fire Operation's website is an INTERAGENCY website designed and maintained by the Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque, NM. It is designed to provide the wildland fire community and the general public with information on wildland fire activity in ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO, and Federal units in WEST TEXAS.
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