24 Mar 2008, 4:45pm
Latest Fire News
by admin

Battle lines shift for war on fire

By JOHN CRAMER of the Missoulian

An air tanker drops retardant on the Black Cat fire near Missoula last summer. Environmentalists have been using the issue of aerial fire retardant to force the U.S. Forest Service to overhaul its firefighting mission.
Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian
Watch a video of an air tanker at work fighting fires

Using the northern spotted owl as a surrogate, environmentalists took eight years to win a legal victory and the public’s attention in the decade-long effort that stopped old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest’s national forests by the early 1990s.

Today, environmentalists are ahead of that pace in what they anticipate will be another decade-long forest campaign, having scored victories in the courtroom and public spotlight five years into an effort to force the U.S. Forest Service to overhaul its firefighting mission and practices.

Rather than using an endangered owl as their icon, environmentalists this time are spotlighting aerial fire retardants, saying the chemical red slurry is an environmental hazard - not a critical firefighting tool, as the Forest Service maintains.

“Stopping the war on fire won’t be as sexy as saving God’s ancient forests - that’s like saving Yosemite or Grand Canyon - but everyone knows the Forest Service’s whole war on fire is ecologically and financially bankrupt,” said Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics and a former Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund resource analyst who helped end old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest. … [more]



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