Forest management necessary

Wildfires in California this year are some of the worst in the state’s history. This year, 8 million acres have been burned, an area the size of Maryland. The death toll is 25 or more; 3,500 homes have been destroyed; and 450 firefighters have been killed since 1990. In 1990, President Clinton sharply reduced logging and road-building in federal forest. This has let disease and insect infestations run rampant, and lack of fire prevention is one result.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has issued a statement in a memo instructing his land managers and park superintendents to use their full authority to begin to clear the dead and dying trees and brush that clog federal lands and are tinder boxes for western forest fires. He complained that federal funds earmarked for fire prevention burnings have instead been used for fire fighting.

He said this is the first time in 20 years that the Interior Department will proactively work to prevent forest fires through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction management to save lives, homes and wildlife habitat.

Oregon State Sen. Bert Baertschiger has stated that “resources due to environmental concerns is threatening the safety and wellbeing of our beautiful state.” So far it has cost $238 million of taxpayer money to fight these fires in Oregon. Forest fires are a local bipartisan cause in the West. The opposition comes from local and out-of-state environmental groups. In Montana, 200 million acres are burning. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan sued to stop a proposal for tree thinning and limited burning in the national forest. This opposition also comes from environmental groups that dislike forest management.

The same groups fret about climate change and pollution. Bottom line is these opponents don’t care about fire prevention but they do care about burning fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas.

President Trump cares about the environment. His appointment of proactive Secretary Zinke is proof that he does.

Del. Frank Deem, R-Wood