DATE: August 22, 2002
BACKGROUND: As President Bush travels to Oregon for
a major address on wildfires to be delivered on this date, the
Wilderness Society and other environmental groups are distorting
the truth to escape responsibility for policies that have exacerbated
"Severe drought has caused an above average number of
fires," the Wilderness Society told United Press International.
"As the blame game continues the U.S. Forest Service clearly
must improve its performance if it is to achieve the goal of the
National Fire Plan -- prioritizing our limited resources to protect
lives and homes."
As of August 21, there have been 59,171 fires this year versus
a 10-year average of 60,966. However, the number of acres burned
is more than double: 6,005,751 this year versus a 10-year average
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: We've had droughts in the past
without monster wildfires. The difference now is the dramatic
increase in fuel caused by a 90 percent reduction in logging over
the last decade.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Wildfires burn more acreage
today because the overabundance of fuel in our forests makes them
too hot and fast-moving to control. This is the direct result
of the near elimination of sensible logging and thinning practices
due to protests, challenges, even lawsuits by environmental organizations.
The more radical of their allies, such as the Earth Liberation
Front, even resort to terrorist acts to halt logging and thinning
DISCUSSION: In addition
to heavy fuel loads, firefighting efforts are made more difficult
by a lack of roads. Numerous fire reports by the National Interagency
Fire Center in Boise, Idaho end with cryptic statements such as,
"difficult and inaccessible terrain is impeding containment
Yet, the same extreme environmental groups that claim to bear
no responsibility for today's monster fires worked behind closed
doors during the Clinton administration to institute the "Roadless
Rule" which prohibits road building in 58.5 million acres
of our nation's forests. Even while denying responsibility for
the dangerous state of our forests, these groups are fighting
the Bush administration's attempts to modify this rule as well
as efforts to reinstate sound forest management practices.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Track the current wildfire situation
at the National Interagency Fire Center at http://www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/nfn.html.
For more information on preventing and fighting wildfires,
visit the National Center's Forest Policy Information Center at:
Get specific information on the relationship between poor forest
management and wildfires from Dr. Tom Bonnicksen's National Policy
Analysis #424, Tree-Huggers or Fire-Huggers?: The Environmental
Movement's Confused Forest Policy at: http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA424.html.
by Tom Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Contact the author at: (773) 857-5086 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613