25 Apr 2008, 12:52pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

The Forest Incineration Conspiracy

Conspiracy theories abound in our day and age. There exists the general feeling that we are being scammed big time by some secret group, or not so secret group, for their benefit and to the detriment of the mostly powerless populace.

The list is lengthy: the Global Warming Hoax, the Communist Conspiracy, the AIDS epidemic, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the CIA, the Zionist Movement, Islamo-Fascism, the Ozone hole, Big Oil, the Salmon Hoax, spotted owls, etc, etc.

My “favorite” and the pet peeve of this blog is the conspiracy to incinerate America’s priceless heritage forests.

Many conspiracy theories border on the absurd, but some are blatantly evident. The Global Warming Hoax, for instance, is not secret but rather is trumpeted every day in the Media. We know the names of the conspirators; they are quite proud of their involvement and roles and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure everybody knows their names.

The Forest Incineration Conspiracy is less obvious regarding its chief manipulators, but like all the other blatant and non-absurd conspiracies, the root goal is the same: money.

How, you ask, can destroying forests possibly make anyone rich? There is some push to increase fire suppression outlays, and that leads to more profits for firefighters and firefighting equipment suppliers, but their increased income is minimal and widely distributed. Nobody is making enormous windfall profits by burning down forests, at least not within the fire community. Nor are the Federal land management agencies profiting by ruining natural resources. Nor are enviro groups expanding their memberships by advocating abandonment of responsible stewardship in favor of habitat destruction.

The case could be made that all these special interests are shooting themselves in the foot by promoting Let It Burn. Indeed, I have made that case again and again.

So who profits by burning down millions of acres of public forests every year?

Private commercial forest owners, that’s who.

Forests provide a number of commercial commodities, principally water and wood fiber, but the former is difficult to monetize. Water rights are usually (mostly) owned by downstream users. Landowners with watersheds cannot charge for the water that drains off or passes through their properties. Increasing the water yield from one’s property provides no economic return to the landowner. Decreasing the yield or polluting the water does not produce profits through extortion, either.

That is not to say that water is not big business, because it is. But ownership of water rarely belongs to the landowner who is not incentivized to produce more, if that were possible. And decreasing the water yield or polluting the water is strongly dis-incentivized in most cases (the exception being the Federal government which routinely incinerates watersheds without penalty).

No, the principal commercial resource that can be monetized from forestland is wood fiber. Wood products are also big business world-wide, and therein lies the problem that faces most wood product producers. Wood fiber is everywhere. There is a worldwide glut. Wood fiber is NOT in short supply.

Owning trees is like owning dirt. Everybody’s got some. It’s hard to undercut the competition. Today in the Pacific Northwest the premier forest product, Douglas-fir sawlogs, are at their lowest market value in 25 years (and that’s without taking inflation into account). The value decline has been fairly steady over the last quarter century, too. You can hardly give away DF logs these days.

On a personal note: contrary to popular assumption, as a private consulting forester for the last 27 years I have NOT been supported by the “timber industry.” My clients have NOT been timber industrialists. I am NOT a shill for timber interests. No timber company has contributed one thin dime ever to SOS Forests or to W.I.S.E. My clients have been almost exclusively small woodland owners, private individuals and families that own small rural parcels. My work has been chiefly oriented to resident stewardship, tree farming on a small scale, backyard specialty niche products, and more than anything family stewardship counseling. The “timber industry” and I are barely on speaking terms, let alone in bed together.

Be that as it may, I am well-aware and conversant on the machinations of timber industrialists. I know who’s who and what’s what and have followed the “industry” very closely. I know their game, and I know what butters their bread.

Ever since the modern forest harvest industry matured after WWII, the primary limitation on profits in wood products has been over-supply. Shortly after WWII the basic accoutrements of tree harvest were in place: chain saws, skidders, tower yarders, log trucks, and sawmills. There have been improvements and innovations since then, but the basic system has not changed. And while the market for wood products has certainly expanded, the capacity for production has expanded many times faster.

There has never been in my lifetime a shortage of wood fiber. There have been localized short-term deficiencies, but never a general one. There has never been rationing in wood products. Indeed, there has never been rationing in any natural resources except oil, and even then the shortage is artificial and induced by cartels, not by actual physical limits on the resource. And unlike fossil fuels, wood products are a renewable resource: trees grow back.

The tree resource glut is long-standing and wil continue. The vast boreal forests of Canada and Siberia have hardly been touched, and even where they have been heavily harvested trees are growing back again. The crisis of “deforestation” is a false one. Despite 50 years of wholesale worldwide industrial harvest, there are more trees and more standing wood fiber volume than ever before.

Which brings us back to the Forest Incineration Conspiracy. The large forestland holding corporations realize their profits are effectively limited by over-supply of the basic resource. Therefore, their best strategy is to limit their competitors’ capacity by inflicting harvest restrictions upon them, or in the most ruthless case, burning down the forests of their actual and potential competitors.

The big multi-national forestland owners supported the Clinton Plan, which became the Northwest Forest Plan and halted almost all harvest on Federal land in the PNW. The big money interests support restrictions on public forest harvest by whatever means including the Spotted Owl Hoax and the Salmon Hoax. And they support and encourage the incineration of America’s priceless heritage forests, just in case government policies ever change and public timber might come to market someday.

It is the large multi-national forestland owners who bankroll the enviro groups. The foundations that provide the grants to BINGOs and to every medium-sized and small eco-litigious, radical anti-forest monkey-wrencher cult are in fact deep pocket industrialists. Follow the money. Connect the dots.

Is it Weyerhaeuser land that ahs been burning up by the millions of acres every year? Not hardly. But if global warming is the culprit and cause of increasing forest fire acreage, then why not? Doesn’t global climate change affect every acre, regardless of ownership?

The answer is that GW is NOT the driver of forest fires, government policies are, and the large multi-national forestland owners dictate those policies to governments worldwide. It is in the economic interests of the Big Boys to incinerate public timber, to prevent it from ever being harvested and reaching the wood products market.

Do Al Gore and the other GW alarmists decry megafires that spew megatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? Not on your life. Instead they encourage forest fires by claiming that fires “benefit” resources. Said benefits are never enumerated, measured, quantified, or explained in any way. They can’t be, because they don’t exist. The GHG emissions from forest fires are never discussed. Instead forests are said to “fix” carbon, which is proved not to be the case by every billowing plume of smoke from every megafire, plumes so large as to be seen from outer space.

Do the wildlife “biologists” from the enviro groups bemoan the loss of wildlife habitat to forest fires? On the contrary, they applaud it. Therecent Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan promulgated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called for more “wildfires used for resource benefit” in spotted owl stands. That is, they want spotted owl stands incinerated for the “good” of the species. That kind of barking “scientific” hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

In a week or so the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF is going to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact regarding Let It Burn fires. The national forest that hosted the 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire in 2002 is going to claim that such fires have no effect on habitat, watersheds, airsheds, recreation, wildlife, public health or safety, or any other aspect of the environment. It will be obvious and self-evident bullpucky, but they will expect the public to swallow it. And if the public protests, the Chief of the USFS will simply shred the Fire Management Plan, as she did this month on the Lincoln, Carson, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto NF’s.

Who is behind that horrific plot to incinerate our public forests? You can blame Gail Kimbell, or Congress, or the Bush Administration if you wish, but they are just tools of the real power elite: the multi-national, deep pocket, timber-holding cartel.

Will the enviro’s protest? No chance. They are tools, too, and of the same power brokers. They LOVE megafire, scorched earth, and the complete wasting of forests. Whereas the eco-wackos used to whine about saving the “ancient” forests, now they promote their incineration to make room for seedlings so that forests can be “reborn.” Old-growth is getting in the way of much more “valuable” tick brush with burnt snags. The eco-solution: Burn Baby Burn. (Note that the former party line was anti-harvest, too, just not as thorough).

Will the strategic realignment of Weyerhaeuser discussed in our previous post change the game? No way. The move is toward a pure landholding structure for what once was an “integrated” company. If anything, the Forest Incineration Conspiracy will grow in power and singularity of purpose.

The Forest Incineration Conspiracy is destroying America’s priceless heritage forests and our public watersheds, wildlife habitat, and natural environments. You won’t be seeing an exposé on the Discovery Channel, though, or reading about it in National Geographic.

You get the straight scoop here at SOS Forests, however. We do not hold back. We want to save our forests, and we know who and what are behind their destruction.

26 Apr 2008, 10:14am
by Pronatalist

There should be logging, hiking, camping, campfires, people being free to use their forests to benefit people.

But I do think we try to “control” nature to such an extent to be detrimental to human beings sometimes.

Out in remote enough, unpopulated regions, I don’t see it as cost-effective to intervene in forest fires. If the forest catches on fire, let it burn, and let nature handle it. So often when humans interfere, as we often have to, to protect our property and interests, I think it makes little difference to the forest, it would have spread or fizzled soon anyway, even without our “help.” Forest fires often wouldn’t need even to be fully “contained,” but to be steered around areas of importance to humans, by backburns and such.

Forest fires are largely a weather event anyway, and during droughts, of course we should expect there to be some large raging forest fires. That’s nature, and often it’s too expensive to impose “control,” so sometimes let nature run its natural course. We can’t afford to thin forests everywhere, there’s too vast, so cut some firebreaks, and let natural wildfires have some role in clearing out some of the overgrowth.

26 Apr 2008, 10:51am
by Mike

Dear Pron,

“Control” is such a buzzword. A great many people wish to “control” the global climate, for instance. I prefer the word “stewardship” or “tending.” Taking good care of something is different than “controlling” it. Beware the hidden connotations in words.

“Remote” and “unpopulated” are also buzzy. Remote is entirely subjective. All Fed land is without homes. Let’s not play with these undefinable words that are pregnant with peripheral drift.

And “cost effective” is poorly defined these days as well. It should mean weighing costs against benefits. Is it worth it to put out a fire that would destroy the habitat of an endangered species? Megafires such as the Biscuit Fire wipe out spotted owl nesting stands and drive that species closer to extinction. How much would you pay to save that species? Recall that 25 million acres were set-aside for spotted owls, with an opportunity cost of roughly $500 billion. Was that set-aside cost effective? Would it make sense then to incinerate those acres now?

Forest fires are not weather. You suggest “steering” fires; do you suggest steering the weather? Can you steer a tornado? Fires are fuel consumption; control of fuel is the way fires are controlled.

We certainly can afford to thin forests, since thinning produces valuable products. It’s a benefit, not a cost. And prevention of megafire also benefits water, watersheds, air, airsheds, wildlife habitat, soils, recreation opportunities, and public health and safety. You can’t go camping while the forest is burning, for instance.

Firebreaks don’t work; thinning does. Thinning, properly done, causes canopy fires to drop to the ground. Preparing fuels means that ground fires burn lightly without killing all the trees and converting forests to brush. So-called “natural” fires decimate ecosystems and lead to more fire hazard, not less.

Our forests are heritage environments that have been tended by human beings for thousands of years. Abandoning them to destruction is abrogating our inherited responsibilities. Forests are more than trees; they are complex patterns of vegetation with heritage. They are homelands, not remote wildlands.

It is hard for young people who have never been taught the true nature of our forests to understand all that. Most people are so remote from forests as to not have any idea what they are really all about. “Forests” are idealized and not reality to most people. That disconnect is dangerous, because it leads to massive destruction. It is also the means whereby special interest groups control thinking.

Young people need to shed buzzwords and idealized concepts that have been drilled into them by those who wish to “control” them, and seek to examine and understand forests with clarity of thought and real world experience. Broad brush “prescriptions” based on imaginary factors will never suffice in the real world. We need to grow past those over-simplifications.

26 Apr 2008, 11:32am
by Bob Z


Another fine essay, and an excellent answer to Pronatalist’s assertions.

I have never been a Conspiracy Theory advocate, but you make a compelling case. Whether the actual conspirators are meeting and plotting in smoke-filled subterranean chambers, or are actually knee-jerk bean counters doing their deeds in sun-filled corporate offices under the scrutiny of public “full disclosure” policies is irrelevant: things are working — and have been working — pretty much along the lines you describe. And for the time period you outline (your lifetime).

The so-called “timber industry” has done an excellent job of convincing the public, and even most “environmentalists,” that they and the Enviros are the bitterest of enemies. Polar opposites. Night and day (pick your side). Nothing could be further from the truth. As you so clearly explain, they are nothing more than co-conspirators in the plot to destroy our public forests, even if it means destroying much of rural America in the process. The facts are clear, and you present them clearly.

The only real question is whether this conspiracy is formal or informal in nature. I suspect your money answer is the correct one. Stupid people can be bought cheaply, and unethical “scientists” apparently don’t cost too much more. University tenure (or an agency position) and a handful of pretty grad students seems to be the going rate. Then full retirement at public expense.

Question: Does GW stand for Global Warming or George Weyerhaeuser? You were unclear on that one point. Otherwise: very well done. Thanks.

26 Apr 2008, 1:26pm
by Mike

GW is today’s shorthand for global warming. The actual Weyerhaeuser family has only one or two seats on the Board; they do not control the company and have not since George W. II was ousted in the 1980’s.

For more conspiracy, recall that Weyco is the largest landowner in Arkansas, and they had a lot to do with “making” Bill Clinton. The first thing Slick Willie did as Pres was hold a Timber Summit. The Weyco CEO sat at the head table. He told Willie, “Shut down the Feds and leave us alone,” and that’s what happened.

Since the Feds supplied half the logs, when they shut down, Weyco’s market share doubled. Weyco used the new leverage to buy Mac-Bloedel and then Willamette Ind, as well as a bunch of smaller landowners. That shot them up to a 60 to 80 percent market share in West Coast timber, milling capacity, and distribution (ships, trains).

Weyco has been sued in anti-trust (anti-monopoly) court 3 times I think, losing all 3 cases. But it has hardly slowed them down. Every other major landowner, like LP, left the region, except Plum Creek, which is a Weyco close cousin.

The new arrangement is consolidation in land. Mills come and go, ships sink, but land is forever. That’s what the bottom line is in this game. Think of Napoleon, or Stalin, or any other land grabber. It’s about territorial hegemony. And don’t think the USFS is safe or out of the picture. They have been sold out from under the public; they belong to the Big Land Baron today, not to log to be sure, but to be burned.

The Little Land Barons, the families that once owned large tracts of forestland in OR and WA, have been swallowed up or are hanging on by their toenails. They are a different class. They are local and part of the community. Richer than you or me maybe, but still regular folks and neighbors. The Big Baron is multi-national and not of this place.

26 Apr 2008, 4:11pm
by Pronatalist

Reply to Mike: Relaxing many forest fire fighting efforts, as a cost-cutting measure.

I am sick of taxpayers being extorted to pay up huge sums, to be wasted upon some of these supposed “endangered” species that quite often may not really be “endangered” to begin with. And for the sake of wildlife that we don’t even hunt, that don’t vote, and don’t pay taxes, is a rather idiotic reason to take chances with firefighters lives to fight sometimes “uncontrollable” forest fires.

Yes, we should allow megafires, if the main risk consideration, is merely wildlife. As I have read, large animals simply step out of the way of the passing fire, and small animals multiply back to their previous levels, quickly afterwards. Actually, forest maintenance or natural burns, supposedly help wildlife, later on, by increasing the diversity of their food. Like I often say, I don’t think that all zones, have enough people around, to warrant costly forest fire suppression, so that means not allocating fire fighting resources, even though fires may sometimes grow and link up into spreading “complexes” of fires and naturally grow into a megafire. If we are going to control firefighting costs, might we have to find a way to not fight, over 10% of forest fires? Not just 0.1%? I can understand reading a news report of letting forest fires spread naturally during a rather dry summer, because they aren’t in any fire suppression zone, if the decisions are made in a reasonable way to serve the public, and not just special interests.

As a taxpayer, I also don’t want to pay for “pretend” firefighting, where they use handtools, so as to not “harm” nature, instead of the needed powertools such as bulldozers, to get the job done. Either do the job, or don’t do the job. Don’t just “milk” the taxpayers time-clock.

There’s so many theories, and some should be obviously bogus, like these wacked theories that everything under the sun, forest fires, warming, cooling, hurricanes, are all caused by supposedly man-made “global warming,” and not sun-caused global warming also affecting Mars where we have no cars nor factories. But I think one reason for megafires, is simply forests long-deprived of either costly man-power thinning, and wildfire, and letting wildfires and the occasional megafires return sometimes, seems the obvious way to restore the natural “balance.” So if fires seem to be getting bigger or hotter or becoming superfires, that’s only because of the “backlog” of natural burns, not the “end of the world” at all. So that’s a reason I would list towards allowing some wildfires to go and go until they naturally grow into megafires, but often I think it will take so long for that process to occur, even in weak or overgrown forests, that the fickle nature can then turn against the fire and cause it to stall, to “restore the balance” not all at once anyway, some years later. How many forest fires that seem to go wild and crown during the day, repeatly almost stall on their own, during some calm nights? Or when they flare up again, may find that they have “painted themselves into a corner” and are becoming starved for new fuel, especially if wind direction changes?

I read somewhere that one reason that Alaska has some large forest fires, besides that so much of it is unpopulated so large fires are often no big deal, is because during the summer, there is no night, so there is no “rest” from the winds of the day. Which if so, that’s just another reason not to fight them, due to the lack of any weak or calming period during which the fire might be more easily subdued.

That forest fire I read of some years back, where some biologist shooting at some charging moose or elk or something, that burned for what? A month or two, and grew to some 200,000 acres, I agree with letting it burn, because I don’t see where we taxpayers were obligated to pay for subduing it. A forest fire that grows to some 200,000 acres, is probably by some measure, “out of control,” but then I really don’t think we humans need bother to try to “control” all of nature, but merely to alter it for our needs and purposes.

The main consideration always has to be human interests, otherwise we are monkeying around with nature, for no good reason, which I find to be irresponsible. I call that “earth control,” which I oppose, when we seek to “control” rather than alter nature for human benefit, pretending to impose “control” to such an extent as to be detrimental to humans. (Also a practical reason why I vehemently oppose human population “control.” It’s against nature and against humans. I don’t believe humans should deny life and use shoddy experimental “birth control” either.) “Pristine” wilderness is such a bogus lie, for humans have just as much right to be here, even more, than wildlife, and we are both a part of nature, and transcend nature.

It’s not practical nor cost-effective to fight megafires in unpopulated roadless wilderness that may have become even harder to get to, due to Clinton-ista “roadless” wilderness nonsense. I am for logging and human access, where that’s what people want or where logging companies will pay for it.

Also, I should mention that privately managed land seems to fare better than government-managed land. That’s probably because the government is corrupt and incompetent, but also probably due to that the private land is economically valuable, and so more thinned and managed, while government land is more remote and less accessible, so it’s more neglected and left to nature.

I don’t think thinning is the magic answer, because there’s no way that we can do that everywhere, so firebreaks are part of a sensible stratigy, to help isolate “wild” areas from populated areas. Also, previous burns serve as firebreaks that slow the spread of the next wildfire through the area.

Anyway, I agree with some of the recent “environmental” critisms of Smoky Bear. One website said “Only you can prevent forest fire fighting.” —what Smoky Bear would have said, had he been free. Yes, we should try to prevent forest fires, but do we really have to fight so many wildfires? Isn’t there anyplace, where it’s easier and cheaper, to just let them burn naturally, unchallenged? Especially since some may have grown so big as to not be cheaply stopped, and we often don’t know which fires those could be so well, early on when we couldn’t fight them all.

What did I mean by “steering” forest fires? It means doing a backburn to protect from one flank of the fire, to keep it out of some community, but leaving the rest of the spreading fire unchallenged, perhaps to concentrate fire fighters where they are most needed. It could be cheaper and easier, achieving the main objective at lower cost, and leaving nature to deal with the fire creeping deeper into the forest, or heading towards the ocean or a lake or into another country where there may be also sparsely populated wilderness. I do not believe we have any obligation to keep a U.S. forest fire from spreading naturally into Canada, nor do they have any obligation to stop their forest fires at our border. Nature doesn’t know such arbitrary “borders.” Because firebreaks often don’t hold, is a reason not to cut so many, but to let the wildfire fizzle or grow wildly, on its own, where possible.

26 Apr 2008, 4:25pm
by Pronatalist

P.S. to Mike again: Who says we can’t go camping?

I see I failed to respond to your claim that you can’t go camping while the forest is burning. Not quite true. Camping interests may not be enough to spend a lot of money to fully “contain” some naturally-growing megafire.

But I do think forest fires could be treated a bit more like a “natural event” and not so much the end of the world. We shouldn’t be so hasty to evacuate homes where not needed, nor to shut down all hiking trails and camping sites, as some sort of handy excuse for Big Brother government to come in and declare “Marshall Law” or warlike fire-seige or something.

Now if I am camping, why should I have to leave, upon seeing huge plumes of smoke coming off some burning mountains? As long as we get reliable information that it’s not coming our way, and that we have ample time to clear out in the unlikely event we have to, why not stay camping? Besides, it gives us something of nature to sit in our lawn chairs and watch, other than the sunset. If they must ban campfires due to high fire risk, they can still allow enclosed flames, such as picnic table campstoves. Those are far safer than campfires sending out occasionally showers of sparks. And campfires with good clearing around them, might still be safe enough. Maybe the campground can share a campfire? Or maybe they could ban those nasty cancer stick cigarettes instead? Even some YouTube video showed the fire risk of pigpen cigarette smokers flipping cigarettes out their car windows, but I suspect it was but a clever cut-and-paste of unrelated footage, just like how they build the illusion in movies.

I used to go camping when younger, but don’t seem to find the time anymore. I’m not so sure I even have a tent anymore. I think my brother-in-law took a lot of that of my Dad’s stuff.

26 Apr 2008, 4:55pm
by Mike

If you go camping in a megafire, you will burn up. That’s what I meant. Last summer a megafire (complex) consumed 750,000 acres in Central Idaho. That tended to ruin the recreational experience for everyone, including a few towns that had to evacuate for most of the summer.

Which is where the money was spent on fire suppression, by the way. The fires didn’t know to stop at the edge of town. They had to BE stopped before they burned up Ketchum, Yellow Pine, Sisters, San Diego, etc. The money wasn’t spent way out there, although if it had been maybe much less would have been spent.

The USFS management decided they didn’t need to fight the Biscuit Fire. It was in a Wilderness Area. It would just fizzle out naturally, they conjectured. But it didn’t. It kept on burning, right up to the edge of towns. Then everything and the kitchen sink had to be thrown at it, and it ended up costing $150 million in suppression. Those dollars weren’t spent in the Wilderness Area!

Last summer the Zaca Fire was allowed to burn merrily away in the Los Padres NF behind Santa Barbara. The fire managers decided to just watch it, maybe steer it a little. But then it approached towns and they had to something. In the end over $100 million was spent on suppression, not to save the outback, to save Solvang and other towns.

Backburning is a useful technique, unless you back off five miles and backburn private property, and the backburn never reaches the main fire, and the homes that are incinerated are burned by the backburn. Then it seems kind of stupid, or even destructive, and is highly objectionable to the folks who get burned out for no reason and without any recompense for their losses.

Balance of nature is poor excuse for destruction. It isn’t a real thing. As I said, our landscapes have been shaped by human stewardship for thousands of years. There is no magical “balanced” condition, except that chosen by humans.

Fires damage resources, whether people live near by or not. Maybe we shouldn’t care about habitat, or endangered species, or timber value, or water quality, or heritage forests, or old-growth, or anything remote from your domicile, but we do. I do, and the laws are on the books, and I didn’t write them, but there you go.

Try not to look at things from your own selfish perspective. There are others involved. Think outside your own little box. Forests are not a YouTube illusion. Some of us care about them, and seek to protect and conserve them. Take that into consideration.

26 Apr 2008, 5:35pm
by Pronatalist

Reply to Mike: Just because the news uses scary words like “destroyed” doesn’t mean that “changed” or “renewed,” isn’t a better word.

If you go camping, there’s always a forest fire, somewhere, that may eventually burn to where you are, but probably not likely. There could be a megafire going on in another state, and I suppose if the wind is even blowing in the right direction, you may smell an eerie huge “campfire” smell? And yet why can’t it be safe to continue camping during a megafire, if it is far enough away?

They say that hindsight is 20/20. No matter what the “experts” or government does, somebody’s always going to criticize it. The more the government gets involved, the more exposure it has to possible blame for anything that could possibly go wrong. One obvious challenge, is that the human population continues to grow, and increasingly, it sometimes seems like there’s just so many people most everywhere, so it’s not so easy to just let a wildfire go anymore, no matter the popular theories of the day. I also do not believe that humans should use any means of anti-life “birth control,” that human populations should be encouraged to ENLARGE naturally, unhindered, for the greater good of the many, so perhaps in the future, there will be even less areas where we can afford to let wildfires just “do their thing,” but will have to find better ways to manage the forests.

And I agree that the “natural balance” of forests or nature, is largely a human made-up arbitrary construct. We humans have the right, sometimes the need, to alter nature as well, and that’s natural too. If we do it specifically to clearly benefit humans, or because they have the right, it being their own land.

It may have been a “good call” not to fight the Biscuit Fire early on, with the information or fire maps they had at that time, as it sounds like it meets my possible criteria for a “remote wilderness” fire that may soon fizzle, or spread wildly and then later fizzle anyway. But both fires and weather are still largely unpredictable. And I still think that some sort of “Let Burn” may be appropriate in Yellowstone as well. It may be only during some freak “perfect storm” of fire-prone conditions, that they take off and balloon into firestorms of the sort of the summer of 1988. But if nothing every burns, the inevitable firestorms will likely be even worse, when they do occur, No way to possibly control it, or so the theory goes.

Another reason why I think they need to let more wildfires burn naturally, is due to theories of letting some burns go in the Spring, before the worst fire-prone weather. Now what that might imply. Some spring forest fires will then likely still be burning as summer comes, having mild firefronts that are miles long and not easily controlled as the fire has more widely spread, and since the opportunity to stop them while small and cheaper to control, was missed, then those “hangover” fires then have cost-benefit reason to also let them burn naturally as the summer progresses too, even as they start to grow faster and larger. To have no fires burning at all, during normal summer droughts, seems quite unrealistic to acheive, and when they become harder to control, that could be more practical reason to not even try, provided they are still remote enough, but of course.

I don’t advocate “pristine” wilderness, but more that I as a taxpayer, don’t want to pay for unproductive make-work work, that doesn’t much benefit human interests, so that’s why I favor a more natural approach towards remote and inaccessable wilderness, not keeping people out or denying them mining, logging, or other uses.

Letting a forest burn naturally, is probably always somewhat risky, but not letting it burn, may prove to be even more risky later? Not an easy balancing act it seems. Pruning forests would be such a better way to manage forests, or carving up more firebreaks like they do in Europe?, but we can’t afford that so much in such vast, endless forests. But I do not agree with the Smoky Bear propaganda, of “villianizing” every natural forest fire, as some terrible monster that must be stopped at all costs. Surely there is a more sensible relaxed natural position to take? Letting forests burn, at least should reduce the buildup of fuels, which isn’t very reassuring, if we aren’t allowed to log our forests for American jobs. Who wants to seen the enviros burn up our forests with no benefit to us? We don’t seem to harvest enough lumber I think, for forest fires to be such a threat to that resource, well unless it’s your logging land, which you would likely protect better than the government could, then.

27 Apr 2008, 8:21am
by Mike

No, destroyed is a better word. Gone forever. Wiped out. Converted to brush. Not a forest anymore. Wiped off the face of the Earth.

No, allowing the Biscuit Fire to burn unchecked was not a good call. It resulted in a catastrophe and the most expensive fire in U.S. history. Doing nothing in the beginning led to a cascade of events that ended up costing a fortune. Penny wise, pound foolish. They who hesitated were lost. By the time the fire storm threatened the towns 20 miles away, there were no choices left.

The best plan is to do restoration forestry ahead of time. Reduce the fuels and restore forests to historic conditions. Make forests resilient to fire.

Fire alone doesn’t reduce fuels. Often there are more dead fuels in place after a fire than before. That’s because fires can kill all the green trees. Then brush sprouts, producing fine fuels. Soon the fire hazard is worse than it was before the fire.

The solution is not to log away forests before they burn in catastrophic fires. The solution is to tend them with careful stewardship so that forests may survive fires. That means some logging, some fuels management, and some deliberate burning with ecological and historical sensitivity.

Restoration forestry requires professional expertise, just like surgery. It is not something anybody off the street can do. But with the proper training and experience, excellence in restoration forestry can be achieved.

Study is key. That’s why W.I.S.E. provides Colloquia and an online library of the most cutting-edge science related to environmental restoration. We are still in the early formative stages, but have posted more than 130 works so far. Feel free to join our effort, and to support us with your generous donations. Thank you.

27 Apr 2008, 11:42am
by Forrest Grump


You are wrong when you say these megafires are natural. The precursor conditions in terms of fuels most emphatically are not natural, but artificial, a result of human policy the past century or so.

And you need to get it in your head that there probably haven’t BEEN “natural” forests for about 10,000 years. The darn Injuns made sure of that.

There’s a lot of HISTORY out there on the ground that needs to be understood.

27 Apr 2008, 1:33pm
by Joe B.

on the Cascade Complex Fire last summer in Idaho the fire managers, when they got to fighting the fire, tried to herd the fire into recently burned areas. The problem with that strategy was the recently burned areas had much more volatile fuel for the fire to consume. The fires raced through these areas kicking the firefighters asses all the way down the west side of the SF Salmon River and all the way up the east side of the river, then over the ridge and on to Johnson Creek.

I like a good forest floor cleansing fire. Trouble is, we don’t get that anymore. We get crown fires, walls of flames, and vast swaths of forest destroyed.

As to the use of the words changed and renewed, no, the newspapers have it right when they ignore the suggestions of PR idiots and rightfully use the word destroyed.

27 Apr 2008, 10:01pm
by Mike

I apologize for posting Pronatalist’s comments. At first I thought he was someone who had something to say. But then the comments started pouring forth in longer and longer versions, making less and less sense, descending into gibberish, and I finally realized we were dealing with a classic speed freak.

Speed, amphetamines or other neuro-accelerants, rot the brain. They give the user a sense of power and certainly induce loquaciousness, but sensibility and logic diminish until rational thought becomes a stream of words without intelligence.

This site is for people who care about forests. Quantity of verbiage is not a substitute for real concern and knowledge. I feel sorry for Pronatalist, and wish him mental health, but it does the rest of us no good to try to analyze his chatter or attempt to wrestle him into sanity.

So I have cut him off. Not for any political reason, since his politics seem to be all over the place. Nor out of animosity or unwillingness to debate on my part. He is not all there, and it is tragic and sad, but my time and your time and our best efforts to teach him are wasted on Pronatalist.

I should have seen it sooner. Sorry. But it may serve as a little lesson that we all probably don’t need: speed kills, and it starts with your brain.

Another lesson: conspiracy theories attract nuts like moths to a flame.

28 Apr 2008, 10:37am
by Forrest Grump

Aw, darn, Perfesser,
Leave Pron on…he’s good practice. He reads like a Ron Paul supporter, talking about being a taxpayer and not crazy about wilderness, about the same level of knowledge as Ron Paul himself, who is in bed with the “Green Scissors” coalition — I E, Friends of the Earth et al.
Yeah, they’re YOUR electrons, but I’d rather have the dissent to dissect.

28 Apr 2008, 10:46am
by Mike

If it was rational dissent, sure, but you didn’t see the bulk of it. Mostly crazy talk. Not helpful or illuminating.

I have not been following Ron Paul’s positions, but I suspect they are not well-articulated. The political class specializes in obfuscation. Besides, elected officials have little or nothing to do with how the government works, not at the Federal level anyway.



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