Burning more than we ever logged

August 29, 2008 03:50 pm

In the Aug. 20 edition of The Observer is a story of the latest attempt by the Forest Service to hold one of its famous “controlled” burns in weather judged to be extremely high for fire danger and held in an area that had large amounts of private property.

In typical arrogant fashion, the regional spokesman for the Forest Service said, and I quote, “This happens all the time. You burn up someone’s fence post or pasture and they file a claim.”

Maybe if the Forest Service used a little common sense and discontinued the belief that it somehow holds some power or that of the divine, the power to control both wind and water, it wouldn’t have to try and make the public believe it’s really not the Forest Service’s fault and somehow the landowner is the bad guy for filing the claim.

The landowner in question connected to the Bridge Creek fire is suing the government. I agree he has that right except suing the government is something like suing yourself in that it’s your money that funds the government.

A better practice in my opinion would be to saddle government and managers with the same responsibilities that all of us normal people are required to live up to, that being if your decisions cause damage to another property, the government official would be required to make restitution. This could be actual damages such as the total costs of fences and pasture destroyed up to termination in severe cases. None of us as citizens of the country should be forced to watch the destruction that occurs yearly in our national forests.

The terribly flawed management practices insisted on (or rather I should say, the non-management practices inserted) by the so called “green movement” in this country is rapidly changing the color of our national treasures from a healthy green to, in the case of much of the Wallowa-Whitman, an unhealthy gray and once fire strikes, black.

In the 1980s when we were fighting for our jobs, we all predicted what would happen if logging and other management practices were discontinued at the demand of the environmentalists.

Now instead of having an industry that manages the forest and in the process funds schools, whole communities, roads, hospitals and is in itself renewable and sends money back to the treasury, we have this yearly destruction cycle that only destroys forests and costs this country billions of dollars we don’t have to spend, increasing our dependence on countries like China and Russia for monies to operate.

We are burning more than we ever logged and there is no return on a burned forest, only more debt.

Paul Morehead is a Joseph resident.