Fire in the
West—A losing battle?
SPECIAL FEATURE - May 26, 2003
Since the 1960s, the ’let it burn’ approach to wildfire
has gained wider and wider acceptance. But as fires increasingly
come up against the West’s phenomenal population growth
– and as some scientists warn that a century of aggressive
fire fighting has caused an explosive buildup of trees and brush
– we’re spending billions fighting ’catastrophic’
forest fires every year.
Now, some scientists are finding evidence that the big blowups
will continue, whether we like it or not. And for the forests,
that may be good news. To read the story, click
Members of the Sierra Hotshot crew of Oakhurst,
California, use a backburn to help combat the Rodeo-Chediski fire
in Arizona, last June. AP World Wide
Signs both in support and protest of President
Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative line a wall as citizens gather
in an overflow area to watch the House Resources Subcommittee
on Forests and Forest Health's first field hearing at City Hall
on March 7, 2003. Greg
Bryan / Arizona Daily Sun.
misplaced in forest appeals?
By GARY GHIOTO
Arizona Daily Sun Staff Reporter
As fires burned across the West last summer, Arizona politicians
such as then-Gov. Jane Hull and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl said appeals
filed by environmentalists had delayed or blocked forest thinning
projects that could have prevented wildfires that scorched millions
Some members of Arizona's congressional delegation, such as
U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Flagstaff, said the only way to stop "obstructionist
environmentalists" was to pass legislation making it harder
for them to appeal forest projects.
the Ecological Restoration Institute report, "Show Me the
Data!: Wildfires, Healthy Forests, and Forest Service Administrative
Read the GAO report, "Forest
Service: Information on Decisions Involving Fuels Reduction Activities."
E.J. Montini's 6/26/03 column in the Arizona Republic:
"Trying not to fan political fires"
Healthy Forests Initiative
The White House plan proposes to "cut red tape," allowing
the Forest Service to more easily implement treatments in the
National Forests. Exemptions to environmental regulations such
as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National
Forest Management Act may be enacted in order to avoid law suits
that slow down or prevent timber sales and other treatments.
Critics charge that the plan comes straight from corporate timber
interests. They claim it would increase logging and reduce public
input into public forest management, neither of which will do
anything to protect rural communities from the real threat of
Click here for more information
The Hon. Mark Rey, Under Secretary for
Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
describes fire season forecasts for the nation during a field
hearing of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest
Health at Flagstaff City Hall on March 7, 2003. Photo
by Jake Bacon / Arizona Daily Sun.
Ohio Division of Forestry firefighter Brian
Howard uses a fuel can to light a section of forest near West Portsmouth,
Ohio Tuesday, April 15, 2003. Howard and others were using back-fire
methods in an attempt to stop the spread of a forest fire that has
already claimed over 250 acres. (AP
Photo/Portsmouth Daily Times, Scott Osborne)
in the Crossfire
By JOHN MacDONALD
Associated Press Writer
MISSOULA, Mont. -- For 20 years, Forest Service researcher Jack
Cohen avoided getting dragged into the politically sticky world
of forest management.
While bureaucrats, loggers and environmentalists argued over
how best to manage forests and forest fires, Cohen stuck to his
research into fire behavior, pleased if it added some objectivity
to the debate, but resigned to the likelihood it would not.
"My philosophy has always been that of a scientist,"
says Cohen, a veteran fire researcher at the Forest Service's
Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula. "I say 'This is my
study. What somebody does with my research in forest management,
well, that's up to them.' "
Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano
on Thursday released a forest-management plan that embraces everything
from controlled burns to tree cutting as ways to protect Arizona's
forests from disastrous wildfires.
But the plan stops short of endorsing logging and instead relies
on scientific findings to set the guidelines for which trees should
The emphasis on science drew praise from both sides of the emotionally
charged forest-management debate.
The "Healthier Forests Initiative"
Delivers Plan for Forests
Mary JO PITZL
The Arizona Republic
Gov. Napolitano visits Northern Arizona
University's Centennial Forest west of Flagstaff - Arizona Daily
Ponderosa pine mortality on Mars Hill in
Flagstaff due to bark beetle attack.
Attack, Mass Casualties
Bark Beetles Add
to Fire Danger
By GARY GHIOTO
Arizona Daily Sun Staff Reporter
The good news is that precipitation in northern Arizona this
winter may be just enough to give many relatively healthy ponderosa
pines a fighting chance against fatal bark beetle attacks, forestry
The bad news is that it takes "several years" of normal
rainfall before drought-stressed pines can fully recover and produce
beetle-fighting pitch, they add.
But the really bad news is the forecast of dead and dying trees
for 2003 may skyrocket and current forest conditions promise a
bark beetle outbreak in just a few weeks at least as bad as last
year's, when 2 million trees in Arizona were killed.
"In a recent guest editorial
'Should the Forest Service have money to burn?' author Randel
O'Toole makes the serious error of assuming that simply protecting
houses is all that should be required during destructive wildfires.
His approach is a false economy, based on the mistaken belief
that homes are the only real value-at-risk during these events.
"The 'interface,' where it is and what it is, has long
been a matter of discussion among land managers and wildland fire
professionals. With the release of the National Fire Plan in the
fall of 2000, and subsequent congressional appropriations designed
to treat hazardous fuels, new parties have joined the debate.
The reality that few understand, and that fewer are willing to
accept, is that the interface is big, and can easily encompass
several jurisdictions and ownerships. It extends for miles, includes
substantial public land and all of it needs attention and treatment..."
To read Randel O'Toole's guest editorial,
"Should the Forest Service have money to burn?" click
What's really at risk?
By PAUL SUMMERFELT
Special to the Arizona Daily Sun
Paul Summerfelt is the Fuel Management Officer
with the Flagstaff Fire Department. To learn more about the department's
efforts, visit http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/fuelmanagement
To learn more about the wildland/urban interface (WUI), click
What can you do to protect your property? Read
June 26, 2003