7 Mar 2008, 12:43pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The Planned Incineration of the Rogue NF

Maybe it is not clear to the newest readers of SOS Forests that when the USFS says “the full range of Appropriate Management Response strategies for the management of wildland fires,” they mean whoofoos. They mean Wildland Fire Use, and Let-It-Burn. They mean no rapid response initial attack. They mean holocaust, catastrophic megafire ala the Biscuit Fire (2002).

The USFS has announced their intention to burn down the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest [here]. That is their intention.

Appropriate Management Response encompasses a range of possible responses to unplanned fires, from monitoring (watching the fire burn to ensure objectives are being met) to full suppression (putting the fire out).

Watching the fire burn is code for Let-It-Burn. Watching is not firefighting, it is watching.

During the 50,000 acre Tatoosh Fire (2006) [here, here] on the Okanogan NF, watching consisted of a fly-over once a day. During the Little Venus Fire (2006) [here] on the Shoshone National Forest, watching consisted of sending “monitoring” crews with a defective radio system into tight canyons where they got burned over and nearly killed. In any case, watching is NOT containing, controlling, or extinguishing the fire.

“The goals of Appropriate Management Response are to allow more acres to be affected by fire where we believe it will benefit forest health, obtain desired ecological conditions, and reduce the risk of damage over the long term” said Scott Conroy, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor.

Scott Conroy is wrong. Let-It-Burn wildfires in unmanaged forest are stand-replacing (kill all the trees) and do not reduce the risk of damage; they realize it!

Wildfires do not benefit forest health; they destroy forests and convert them to brush!

The desired ecological conditions in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest are NOT incinerated forests converted to brush!

“Land managers throughout the West have learned over the last forty years that there are ecological benefits of having fire on the landscape as it can provide for a renewal of the Forest. It is a natural cycle of life in a forest,” said Conroy.

No they haven’t. If land managers think there are ecological benefits to wildfire, they are delusional. “Renewal of the forest” is what happens when you clearcut it and plant tree seedlings. Catastrophic fire converts forest to brush. That is not forest renewal. In any case, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is a priceless, heritage, forest with endangered old-growth trees, and what is needed is RESTORATION, not “renewal”!!!!!!

Please stop incinerating our public forests, Mr. Conroy. That is not your job. Your job is to protect, maintain, and perpetuate forests, not destroy them. Your job is to care for the land and serve the people, not to generate megafires.

Megafires, when they occur, are always the direct result of the failure of rapid response initial attack. Always. When the USFS says they plan to abandon rapid response initial attack on any fire, they are inviting disaster. Megafires cannot be halted at National Forest legal boundaries. Megafires burn private lands and rural and suburban homes, and even burn into cities, such as San Diego, Los Alamos, and Bend.

The Biscuit Fire on then then separate Siskiyou National Forest is the national prime example of a No Initial Attack fire that went mega. Eventually over 500,000 acres burned (the largest fire in recorded Oregon history), much of it old-growth forests, and over $150 million was spent on suppression (the most expensive suppression effort in U.S. history).

Managers would base their response to an unplanned fire on the conditions and situations present at the time of the fire.

We do not know who, or when, or on which fire the “managers” will decide to cancel and/or fail to implement rapid response initial attack. Those decisions will be spur of the moment by unamed persons. There will be some whoofoos, though. That is the point of revising and amending the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans in their announcement.

And no doubt, when the next RR-SNF whoofoo goes mega, the individuals responsible will melt into the shadows and blame someone or something else for “accident.” But it will not be an accident. The document in question is an announcement that the USFS plans to let fires burn and heaven help us all!

Disaster awaits if the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest amends its Fire Plan to allow whoofoos. That would result only in tragedies of terrible proportions, to Oregon’s forests and communities alike.

The madness must be stopped.



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