ANOTHER VICTORY FOR THE GREENS:
THE BURNING OF CALIFORNIA'S FORESTS & HOMES
& THE TRAGIC LOSS
OF LIVES & PROPERTY
By Alan Caruba
Blackwell began his testimony by noting that the 672,000 acres of the San Bernadino National Forest had some 24 million people living within a two-hour drive and that it was going through “a significant cycle of drought-related, vegetation mortality” involving “severe tree loss.” The result was “a tremendous build-up of hazardous fuels” for a cataclysmic fire.
He noted that “Some community covenants have restricted landowners since the 1920s from tree removal activities on private land within the National Forest” and that the “Forest has not had an active timber harvest program for nearly ten years. There are no lumber mills in southern California and now the current removal of dead and dying trees is difficult and expensive.”
How much more expensive will be the replacement of the homes that have since been destroyed? Or, how much more expensive has been the loss of revenue due to the re- strictions on properly managing these forest areas--revenue that could have been gained by cutting and thinning the overgrown mass of trees? Since the Greens, or radical envi- ronmentalists, mounted their Spotted Owl hoax in the northwest more than a decade ago, countless sawmills have gone out of business and many small towns dependent on them have withered to a few families.
Blackwell told the House Subcommittee: “The President’s Healthy Forest Initiative would play a key role in helping us avoid situations such as we see on the San Bernadino National Forest today. The initiative is based on a common-sense approach to reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires by restoring forest and rangeland health and ensuring the longterm safety and health of communities and natural resources in our care.”
He urged “a public and private partnership” as “critical in providing an integrated and coordinated approach to address the crisis forest-wide.” And he told the Subcommittee that the Forest Service had “redirected $3.2 million in State Fire Assistance and Com- munity Protection/Community Assistance funding for wildfire prevention and hazardous fuels reduction…”
Blackwell warned that other forested areas have similar conditions. “Those ecological conditions, combined with the massive influx of people into California’s wildlands and the rapid growth of communities in and around those wildlands, particularly in the Sierra Ne- vada, have created the potential for truly disastrous wildfires.”
One can hardly wonder what Blackwell is thinking these days or the many forest manag- ers and others who, for years now, have been warning against the now annual loss of huge forest areas to these fires. The plain fact is that the U.S. Forest Service has known for decades that these problems exist and has been issuing these warnings, but the suc- cess of the environmentalist movement in deterring the proper management of forests has once again reaped the whirlwind.
There literally is no excuse for the loss of life and property we have witnessed on our television news and read about in our daily newspapers. The President has been under attack by the Greens for his proposed solution to this problem, and this is just one more example of the irresponsible and dangerous efforts of Greens to attack the timber in- dustry in every way possible.
It is, of course, all part of the Green attack on the American economy in general. It has succeeded, not only with the huge loss of forested areas, the homes of those in and ad- jacent to them, but also in driving up the cost of lumber in an economy in which new home sales plays a significant, if not the leading, role.
There are 490 million acres called timberlands in the U.S.A. They can produce more than 20 cubic feet of wood per acre annually. They’re growing more trees today than they were fifty years ago. At the same time, 247 million acres (33.5%) are reserved from harvest by law or are slow-growing woodlands unsuitable for timber production. The bot- tom line is that the U.S.A. has some 70% of the forestland that was here in 1600, fully 737 million acres, when the pilgrims first arrived.
The U.S. National Park System represents 83 million acres and, unlike national forests, national parks do not allow any timber harvesting. The National Forest System, some 191 million acres, was established “…to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.” These National Forests contribute 25% of the gross receipts from timber sales directly to states for county roads and schools, amounting to millions of dollars each year. All that revenue has been lost because of these preventable catastrophic fires.
This situation has long been known to Congress and to Americans who have witnessed the annual losses. Civil servants like Jack Blackwell have been telling Congress what the problem is and how to solve it. The real question is when will Congress stop pander- ing to vocal Green organizations and their lobbying, and begin to protect our forests and our people? And when will Americans stop buying into all the lies of the Greens and the spineless, pandering politicians?
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, Communications Director of the American Policy Center, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center (www.anxietycenter.com). A compilation of his past columns, entitled Warning Signs, is published by Merril Press. In addition to Warning Signs, Caruba is the author of A Pocket Guide to Militant Islam and The United Nations vs. the United States, both of which are available from the National Anxiety Center, 9 Brookside Road, Maplewood, New Jersey, 07040.
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