When smoke gets in your and my eyes
Tragically missing in the current debate of "enviro lawsuits/appeals of forest fuel load reduction programs" is the affect of the wildfire's air pollution on people located hundreds of miles from the fire.
I started to think about this while on a recent vacation at the King Range National Conservation Area in northwestern California. My efforts to photograph the mountain splendors in this region were blocked by a thick brown haze generated from the Oregon fires burning almost 150 miles away.
The active management of our forests -- substantial mechanical treatment and prescribed burning -- is something that must become a reality. As one who grew up in the small timber town of Eureka, California in the 1950s and 60s, here is my view on active management versus eco-lawsuits.
Active management programs on our national forests will not cause elderly citizens and children living 100-200 miles from a wildfire to be asked to stay indoors by state officials because of a smoke-generated smog alert.
Active management of public lands will not cause families to cancel their vacations at Lake Almanor in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range because the dominating and breath-taking views of Mt. Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park are obscured by a filthy veil of brown air.
Active management will not require the Chief of the Forest Service in Washington D.C. to ask his agency to stop campground projects and trail maintenance programs so that those funds can be redirected to fire fighting.
Active management will not require the evacuation of towns in Colorado, Oregon, and California. It will not destroy the homes and property of rural residents. It will not take the lives of brave firefighters and leave those families without a mom or a dad.
Active management will not destroy the critical habitat of threatened and endangered species. It will not char the bodies of bear, deer, pine marten, red fox, and other animals that can't outrun a fast moving flame.
Active management will not ruin for generations the many family-oriented recreation areas on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management public lands.
As smoke gets in the eyes of everyday Americans we no longer have the option of allowing green lawsuits and appeals to stop the active management of our forests and public lands.
Our forestry professionals must be allowed to do their job.