GUEST POST: Making Congress Responsible for Wildfires

Credit: Kurt Hansen

Guest post by Norma Duffy.  

Ms. Duffy is lifelong resident of Beaverhead County, a businesswoman, farmer, public advocate, and single mother who has no tolerance for the bad politics-as-usual, interfering with our future as Montanans. Follow her on Twitter @Ilikewoods 


UPDATE: as of 8/16/2105 at 4:00 pm 

Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order Sunday declaring a fire emergency for the state of Montana.

The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize more state resources and the Montana National Guard for firefighting, and to draw funds to meet the costs associated with additional resources. The declaration comes after a meeting between Bullock, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation director John Tubbs and Montana state forester Bob Harrington, the governor’s office said in a news release.

President Theodore Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest service to manage America’s 193,000,000 million acres of national forests and grasslands for the benefit of all Americans. To date that mission is falling apart, being consumed by ever increasing costs of fighting fires. The Forest Service of yesterday is only a Wildfire Service today. Why isn’t Congress doing something about this?

Credit: Kurt Hansen

Credit: Kurt Hansen

So Beaverhead County’s luck finally wore out, Wildfires caused by lightning strikes  started burning…. Dillon Dispatch Center Manager, David Mosher, reports the center is currently managing 14 fires, of which only 10 are staffed.

“In the Northern Rockies Geographic Area, there are 58 new fires, of which 15 are considered large incidents. In order to help put the local fire situation into perspective” He says, “a Planning Level 5 was just announced nationally. A significant amount of initial and extended attack and large fire activity has occurred over the past several days as a result of lightning storms that have intensified local and geographic response. Given the continuing hot and dry weather and the increase in fire activity in the western US, the decision to move to Preparedness Level 5 depicts the complexity that fire managers are encountering to assure adequate firefighting resources are available for protection of life, property and our nation’s natural resources.”

In 1995, fire made up 16% of the forest service’s annual appropriated budget. This year for the first time, more than 50% of the Forest Service’s annual budget will be dedicated to fire.

With the shift in monied resources, there has also been a corresponding shift in staff, with a 39% reduction in all non fire personnel. As wildfires have become more frequent and severe, the cost of battling them has increased. In 1985 wildfire suppression cost the U.S. Forest service approximately $240,000,000. In 2012 that number was $ 1.7 billion

Last years fires burned (between 1/1/14 – 8/14/14) 2,570,275 acres. This year (between 1/1/14 – 8/14/14) has now burned 6,509,392 acres. That’s an area about the size of the state of New Jersey and is about 2 million acres above average for this time of year.

Left unchecked, the share of the budget devoted to fire by the Forest Service in 2025 will exceed 67% equating to reductions of nearly $700,000,000 from non fire programs compared to today’s funding levels. That means in just 10 years, 2 out of every $3.00 the forest service gets from Congress will be spent on fire programs solely. That is extremely troubling and has to stop.

As more and more of the forest service’s resources are spent each year to provide the firefighters, aircraft, and other assets necessary to protect lives, property, and natural resources from catastrophic fires, fewer meager funds and resources will be able to support other agency work, including the very programs and restoration projects that reduce a fire threat in the first place.

So what does this mean?

Restoration work that could help prevent catastrophic fires,  protect watersheds and our drinking water along with other cultural resources go up in flame. Upkeep of programs and infrastructure that support thousands of recreation jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth in rural communities based on tourism, and job necessity virtually go up in smoke. Any support for a range of multiple uses of property of the U.S. Forest service by Americans disappears, such as hunting, fishing, hiking and camping… And if rangeland is burnt away how do you Montana cattlemen propose to feed your herds in the summer? Other benefits and ecosystem services we need, as well as research, technical assistance, and other programs of value to the American public vanish….

America’s biodiversity is at a tipping point because of climate change. Fire seasons are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970. Fires have burned twice as many acres as three decades ago.

46 million homes and 70,000 communities are at risk from wildfire in the USA. The six worst fire seasons since 1960 have all occurred since 2000, according to the report. Since 2000, many western states have experienced the largest wildfires in their histories.

What can we do as Americans to help contain the threat. How do we keep Montana jobs and business built on tourism safe from Wildfires? Get after your Senators and Legislator to fund fires like the disasters they are! Some in congress have been trying to get a bill passed called the “Wildfire Disaster Funding Act” but a lot of republicans don’t believe in “Climate Change”, and a lot of them don’t like government of any kind, and a few Democrats don’t like the fact a republican wrote this bill, so it doesn’t appear it will move forward.

The bill is languishing, tabled and possibly won’t be revived…. And it was written by Representative Michael K. Simpson of Idaho. Its not perfect but it is a start. Even President Obama has tried to put provisions like the Wildfire Disaster Act into the new budget. The reality is a conservative congress is more interested in extinguishing Gaydom, and torching to the ground “Planned Parenthood”…. making it somewhat bleak for wildfires funding anytime soon.

The “Wildfire Disaster Act’s”  proposed legislation would finally treat America’s most catastrophic wildfires in the way it treats other natural disasters, meaning that funds required to fight severe fires would be drawn from a federal emergency account rather than borrowed from other Forest Service programs. We need this bill now and a Majority of Republicans plus some Democrats are playing politics with it in Washington D.C. ???

Although a lot of factors have contributed to an increase in fires, one of the bigger reasons for the growing number of fires has to do with the Congress’s refusal to adapt new policies to a growing wildfire threat in our country….

The government seems to comprehend that you can’t budget for a hurricane, a flood, or devastating earthquakes. The government pays for those disasters out of a special account funded specifically for those kinds of threats. The Government uses the armed services to help as well.  Putting boots on the ground to protect and serve in those disasters…. But with wildfires, it treats them like any other government expenditure??? Wildfires ain’t paperclips folks.

An annual amount is budgeted to fight Wildfires by congress which is woefully short, with little more than an estimate of what the fire season mi actually bring… and the armed services are not called in at all, even though it becomes an emergency to our states. Oh sure there are exceptions and they will send some kinds of equipment, but only if the forest Services seem stretched thin…. which it has been for the last 15 years.
We have currently 1.4 million armed service members. Do we continue to fight for “Oligarch Oil wars” elsewhere in the world or do we spend our money where it belongs, right here in the United States to battle wildfires and protect our resources at home….
In other words, Money directed to the USFS and Department of the Interior has become an archaic way to do business for the people of the USA and it needs to change, as well as America’s budgeting.

If ISIL was burning our forests down, would we not bring everything to bear to fight it???

Do we continue to allow congress a free pass from reality because the GOP does not believe in climate change? Do we continue to allow the Forest Service to siphon money from their other accounts to pay for battling fires? Allow the Forest Service to cut back on programs expressly aimed at reducing fire risk? Millions have been diverted from hazardous fuels reduction, forest health management and vegetation management, all of which is likely to mean bigger fires in the future…. The time to act is now as climate change deepens. Its time to make your congressman liable for protecting our way of life.

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41 Comments on "GUEST POST: Making Congress Responsible for Wildfires"

  1. Forest Service (and BLM) “programs expressly aimed at reducing fire risk” are really designed to meet logging volume targets promised in advance to Congress in exchange for appropriated taxdollars. Clearcutting, roadbuilding, commercial thinning and prescribed burning public forests — now operating under new program titles to deceive ignorant members of Congress and the public — are a waste of money and limited agency resources, and does little to nothing to “reduce fire (probability plus consequence) risk.” If the Forest Service really believed in climate change it would mothball its “timber mining” programs.

    • I’ll have to disagree on that Steve.

      The Forest service Road System consists of more than 380,000 miles of roads throughout the United States. The types of roads range from permanent, double-lane, paved highways to single-lane and low-standard roads intended only for use by high-clearance vehicles, such as specialized 4×4 Vehicles. At this time, a significant portion of this entire system is closed or use-restricted to protect resources and because there is no Money left because of Wildfires to repair the damage in the future.

      An estimated 2 million recreational vehicles travel forest roads each day. Eighty percent of this use is only 20% of the FS and BLM system. Thats mostly on roads that are accessible to low-clearance vehicles. An estimated 15,000 log trucks and associated timber harvesting vehicles use forest roads throughout the US each day, That down more than half from the 42,000 vehicles in 1990. Clearcutting isn’t allowed in the US any more hasn’t for almost 50 years. So I am not sure where you are getting your information.

      From what I have read lately by the FS, they have almost a 10 billion dollar Backlog in Maintaining any of those roads because of wildfires snatching the extra funds directed at protecting forests roads and riparian areas. Add to this a GOP congress that continually slashes funds to protect our forests in anyway, a group of uncaring A-HOles that doesn’t give a diddly about our natural wonders, trying to sell and privatize our national wonders… those are the real boogeymen

      Right now my transportation company shuttles a couple of guys around who’s only job in Beaverhead county this month, is replacing or fixing Culverts and cattle Guards. Those repairs are sorely needed, and do protect streams from washouts, and sediment from dirtying our clean Streams and rivers…..

      Taken as a whole there is no clear cutting without public input either. No new roads will be established because there is no money to maintain them. nothing is done in the dark here in Montana, except in congress.

      For example: Rural Montana a non profit group monitors the BLM and Forest Service down here in Beaverhead county and we have a good working relationship with those agencies and their people. information we were given by these agencies, who want to be fair.

      We beat MISTI here on the information we garnered from the GOV, and we are now Monitoring a Drilling exploration proposal in Lima that shouldn’t happen as they closed down the exploration Oil wells in the Bakken…

      I profess to be a Sierra Club Member, but I am not ignorant enough to take just their word solely. I read all sides. Obviously, They have to be sensationalists at times to keep gaining new members….When it comes down to brass tacks they still do everything diplomatically with corporations and the Forest service to keep from having to go to Court.

      The Biggest danger is the GOP majority in Congress, who wants to use Pro timber lobbyists information for their campaign coffers, instead of the government’s forest Service experts…. Zinke and Daines are bought and sold by Timer and coal interests.

      Those two men(Tools) are the biggest Danger to this State staying pristine…..

      Making WIldfires part of the disaster funding will get us back to where we want to be as conservationists and possibly help fund ways to protect our forests from Climate Change.

  2. Norma, I take that as a kind of a call to action. In response to the body of your Guest Post, I’ll get more active in my ways. I’d like to share some info. The shocker for me, has been how few Montana fire crews were left in Montana, when a hundred fires burned in Alaska.

    Luckily that OK. Seems like time to ask around. Get a sense for how many firefighter crews are under contract to go where there employer may assign them, should forest fires in Washington worsen.

    Do take a look at the outlooks for unusually dry and warm October, November and December.

    Do remember the terrible wind from the south that toppled power poles in Missoula, and clocked 124 mph at Missoula Airport.

    Of course, that windstorm of hot dry air came right up from over the four corners area.
    What if that windstorm had blown up hundreds of small forest fires?

    Monsoon driven wet windsorm wipes out a swath of Alberta few years back.
    Monsoon winds enter Montana for three years, then this year
    as monsoon windstorm approach the four corners area,

    There’s nothing but hot, dry air from there to the Bitterroot Valley.
    From there to along the East slope of the Bitterroot Mountains.

  3. There is a serious problem, not that a Republican is sponsoring the bill, but which Republican. Rep Simpson (ID) voted against the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill. So why would Republicans and Democrats from the Northeast be willing to help him.
    This is a bill that a Senator (Democrat or Republican) from the western states, who supported the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill, needs to be the sponsor. Senator Tester would be a good one. Senator Daines would be a poor choice since he voted against the Sany Relief Bill.
    We have to remember that politics is the art of compromise and real solutions, not blind adherence to ideology.

    • Agreed!!!!

      • Norma,

        Why would you say such outrageously false things about clearcutting? Who told you all that bs?

        You are dead wrong about clearcutting. If it’s logging in lodgepole, it’s generally clearcutting.

        Look it up. Here are a couple of hints where to look first:
        1)The Basin Creek Project South of Butte — 1,200 acres of clearcuts.
        2) More recently West of Helena, the Chessman-Flume Project — roughly 500 acres of clearcuts;
        3) and that’s adjacent to the much larger Clancy-Unionville Project.

        I could go on, and on, but what’s the point? You seem destined to believe what you believe and repeat it. More accurately perhaps, you believe what you’re told to believe by ethically-challenged “experts” who mislead and misrepresent 24/7 to get the cut out. You trusted but forgot to verify.

        • I did verify. Unless it is private land it can’t be clear cut. and that can be fought as well if there is a riparian habitat that needs forest protection or an endangered animal lives in those confines.

          The forest service does not allow clear cutting. Conservation Lawsuits stopped that long time ago on Federal Land. there can be thinning on federal land but not Clear cutting. Oh they can cut away from roads for fire protection. saw dying or dead trees that constitutes a problem to people and structures. and still that environmental entails impact reports of all kinds I worked for the BLM for years as staff for fire, forestry and range. Stop reading all the HYPe the sensationalism start reading the law and the successful lawsuits.

          I have also taken Environmental Law and Policy at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just this past year online. I think I have a pretty good understanding of Conservation. The course is free by the way. Learn something.

      • http://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=4082

        Go there for Tester Bill re:funding for wildfires.
        Go down for sideways discussion.
        Go forward and do your part to get Congress to BUDGET for wildfire suppression.

  4. To make matters worse global warming also causes blizzards and asteroids.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/02/global-warming-it-causes-everything.php

  5. ONLY thirty five years from seedling to harvest of a tree. Most countries are tryong to preserve their forest,and China has barred ALL cutting of trees. Does anyone know how much of our forests are under contract to other countries ?

  6. I wonder what position the Forest Service, the timber industry and the forests themselves would be in if “environmentalists” had never come on the scene.
    The same question can be asked of the BLM rangelands. Every speculative answer is laughable.

  7. I wonder what position the US Forest Service, the timber industry and the forests themselves would be in if the “environmentalists” had never come on the scene.
    The same question can be asked of the BLM and rangelands. Every speculative answer is laughable. There would be no wild woodlands in these northern states to argue over if the conservation movement had never arisen. Case in point: Texas.

    BTW Norma, you’ve been misinformed. The Forest Service does allow clearcutting. Always has. There are various size limitations, based on different factors, eg riparian areas, protected status, human population density, size of nearby private clearcuts, which can be massive and sometimes become essentially permanent weedfields (which makes it a wildlife habitat consideration), and so forth. Please look into this at your nearest USFS Supervisors’ Office and post a correction.
    You might start here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r1/
    See left column for phone #s Or start here for more text:
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r1/about-region/overview/?cid=stelprdb5110505
    Or search Forest Service Region 1, which is mostly ND, MT,ID.
    Sorry folks if this post is a dupe de doop I get overexcited :0-)

  8. Pie do you or Steve ever read anything:

    Basin Creek Project South of Butte: no clearcutting! Habitat protection of the creek, and old Gold mine that will gives more jobs to montanans. a small section of road access necessary by the forest service. http://mtstandard.com/news/local/highlands-mine-project-ok-d-but-haul-road-still-undecided/article_e994d26a-08d4-5045-a055-77f06c4226c4.html

    Chessman-Flume Project The Dead tree Project:

    The Helena NF released an environmental assessment and decision notice/finding of no significant impact document for activities that would treat and remove fuels and hazard trees along a portion of the Red Mountain flume and Chessman Reservoir, located in the Tenmile watershed on the Helena Ranger District. Tenmile is the municipal watershed for the City of Helena and, after treatment, provides nearly 30,000 people with drinking water on a daily basis.
    Due to decades of fire suppression and the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic, the Tenmile watershed has experienced significant tree mortality and uncharacteristic fuel loading. As directed by its management plan, the Forest is responsible for proactively managing the municipal watershed, to maintain sufficient water quality and supply to city residents; and the Red Mountain Flume Chessman Reservoir project is designed to do just that.
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/helena/home/?cid=STELPRDB5412992

    Clancy-Unionville Project.
    Stoping Use of temorary FS Roads, destorying eventually those roads and returning it to Habitat only. Clearing dead trees and provideing for healthy native forest/grassland communities with a wide variety of native plant species, including trees of varying ages, species and sizes that are more sustainable and resilient; and reduce the threat of large scale, a catastrophic wildfire by reducing horizontal continuity in wet forest types and vertical continuity in the dry forest types.

    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/helena/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5407857
    You are arguing that there is clearcutting of forests, again this is not true.

    The real Argument is if these cleanups and reductions of dead wood are not taken care of, it will be far harder to protect those areas from Wildfire. If the Forest service keeps losing funding of projects such as these to wildfires we will have more severe fires in the future.

    The facts stand before you, I see it everytime I drive to Helena. Thousands of acres of dead trees as far as the eye can see on Highway 15. the Forest service is finally going to do something about dead trees and replant if necessary including Native grasses…..And all you can say or scream is Clearcutting? Really, you want to save dead trees, and misconstrue the conversation as my Fault????

    I have thicker skin and the facts on My side.

    • I stand by my original comment: “Clearcutting (etc.)…now operating under new program titles to deceive ignorant members of Congress and the public …”

      You have been taken in by the propaganda. Read further than the description of the project — the propaganda — and you will find the “harvest method,” which in each case I cite is clearcutting. I am so sorry this is hard for you.

      • Regarding the Chessman project, you are right, Steve. Clearcuts are mentioned precisely once:

        “On November 6, 2013, the Helena District Ranger, representatives of the interdisciplinary team, the Deputy Regional Forester
        (Objection Reviewing Officer), Regional Appeals/Objections Coordinator, and I (Helena Forest Supervisor and Responsible Official)met with the two Objectors (Native
        Ecosystems Council & Montana Ecosystems Defense Council), members of the Tenmile Watershed Collaborative Committee, and the City of Helena.
        The purpose of this meeting was to seek resolution to some or all of the objection issues raised in the objections submitted on this project. In that meeting, no remedies for specific objection issues were offered; therefore, no resolutions to their objections were reached. Broad, generic remedies were suggested including 1) Select the no-action alternative because the objectors believe that the larger watershed vegetative condition doesn’t need management and 2) Conduct an environmental impact statement process developing
        alternatives focused on wildlife and recreation needs without the use of clearcuts. These general remedies do not precisely deal with the objectives of this project and are outside the scope of the
        Flume Chessman purpose and immediate need to lower the probable consequences of an intense wildfire to the flume and reservoir or the protection of the flume from falling trees.” I’m just not convinced that that mention says what you think it does.

        Just so that I’m clear on the dynamic here, you are expressing false sorrow as a thinly veiled sneer and walk away after simply telling someone else how ignorantly fooled they are with no evidence of such a thing? What the author has called for makes perfect sense, a mandated budget for fighting wild fire in an efficient and effective manner. What you want is for the Forest Service to do your bidding. One of you might get what they want, or at least we could hope they would. It’s the other that I’m feeling sorry for.

        • http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Drought/

          Stock markets de-valuing. Commodities already devalued. Millions more will need work.USFS roads need building. Tester proposes budgeting for wildfire costs. Norma outlines the background, urges poly-ticians to take action,

          And what is important. Why of course, how did i ever forget!
          What’s really important is the distorted distraction of alledged
          clear cutting.

          What’s at the heart of the distortion?
          Why of course, hurt Norma and pretend you are sorry for the hurt you think you caused.

          What a non-clever way to get people to remember you.

          Back to the subject. Even if you think there are clearcuts,
          all the more reason to budget for wildfires. If there are clearcuts, and kinda clearcuts, then apply stumpage revenue to road building.

          • Bob,
            There are no net (positive) revenues. Nor is there a net public benefit. “Road credits,” yes they still build roads on almost every new logging project, are awarded to the high-bid contractor as a pot-sweetener. Otherwise, there’s no profit in logging anything except the few remaining old growth stands. Purchaser credits represent an indirect subsidy. Most logging projects on FS or BLM ground are below-cost operations. Call this practice whatever you like, but it is factually incorrect to call it profitable or sustainable.

              • What? We all knew that stuff and more about over-engineered USFS road cost$ years ago. One of the huge problems was designing/building roads to lower costs
                on next year’s cut.

                And, speaking of responsibility. Oh no, Steve does not do that, he ascribes irresponsibility to a straw figure.

                Our forests are burning while some in the Beltway have long been fiddling around with straw figures. Why mimic them?

            • Dear Cowgirl,
              Kudos to Norma for her great post. For decades Steve Kelly was the lone voice in MT calling out below cost timber sales,(socialize logging), it hasn’t changed. No matter how you wrap it or spice it up, The only people who make money in timber, long term, are the private timber landholders. The mills are in the constant boom and bust cycle, that is the history of timber. All these plans will do one thing only, a subsidized temporary boost to MT mills. As I asked in the Flathead Beacon in a published letter to the editor over a year ago;
              “Finally the question to the domestic timber industry puzzle no one, not even those currently in, or gunning for public office want to ask or answer in today’s world timber market; what would happen to the price of lumber if all that talk to bring timber harvests on public land back to the boom year levels becomes reality? Smart money says lumber prices would get hammered with only the cheapest producers surviving, none of which are in Montana.”

              Sincerely
              John Marshall

        • Thats it right! There is Not one of these projects Steve pointed to, I find the Forest Service calls for clear cutting as the only solution. Not one.

  9. There may be a few “environmentalist” who have taken their cause to extreme, BUT had the Forest Service, BLM, EPA and others whose job it was to guard and protect our nation. had never allowed “outside intrests” to influence them in decision making that has jeopardized our environment, there would have been NO need of the environmentalist.

    • Exactly! and that proves is the American process and democracy at work. We still struggle to keep the doors open for public comment. Public Comment does not mean Corporate Comment. Corporations are not people.

  10. Three points:

    (1) The U.S. Forest Service does not clearcut as much as it once did, but the agency has not renounced clearcutting as a logging method. Nor has it renounced seed tree cuts, which are really the first stage of a two-stage clearcut.

    (2) The agency’s logging policy cannot be inferred from a logging project. That a project or few does not employ a clearcut is not proof that the agency has renounced clearcutting.

    (3) “Logging” is the best word for describing cutting down trees. Use “harvesting” to describe Uncle Fred’s annual collection of corn on his back 40. Forests are not, and should not be, monocultures. Farms are. Conservationists should not join foresters in misapplying the language of farming to forest management.

    • As to your point 3, exactly why not?

      • From William Wyant’s Westward in Eden, page 269.

        I’m willing to use harvest for Christmas tree farms, but not for cutting old growth and not for cutting most second growth. The only thing that forestry has in common with farming is that both are often subsidized by the government.

        • So, though the practitioners of it call it “hunting”, you’re telling me that morel mushroom “harvesting” is “logging”?

          Please forgive the sarcasm. I personally find it inherently questionable and often dangerous to ascribe particular moral value to words describing practice, like “logging”. Clearing watersheds is not logging, nor is it harvesting. Not is it morally beyond anything other than the practice of cutting down growing things for a purpose. The right twists words to manipulate moral opinion like that all the time. I tend to twitch when the left does the same, especially when they do it to counteract the right in a counter-productive manner. Logging is not an evil. It is what it is. Sometimes, it is exactly harvesting. That the Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture would favor the latter term is not a mystery, nor does it seem they are trying to hide anything beyond the viel of a semantic distinction. Insisting on calling a spade a spade means what? That I am somehow suspect for calling it a shovel?

          • “…nor does it seem they are trying to hide anything beyond the viel of a semantic distinction.”

            If you believe that, you will believe anything.

            • Its moral gardening Folks. lodge pole pines grow in a blink of the eye compared to other conifers, like blue spruce…. The slower growing confers, are not getting the sun when choked out by the weeds(lodgepolepine)….

              We really haven’t had a let it burn policy since the 1990’s, and because of manmade climate change. We actually might not get to let nature do its job ever again. because of that…. We have brave firefighters dying trying to put out flames around communities to close to our boreal forests.

              We created these disasters. and we need to stop it. Im all for having more trees, but not of it being one kind. there is hardly board feet in Lodge pole pine. they succumb to disease and insects more readily than any other conifer.

              The Lodgepole wasn’t the dominant tree here in Montana but bad logging processes, when the state was first inducted into the union and cutting down the bigger grander trees like White pine for profit, gave it greater footing. There is nothing wrong with cutting some of those lodgepoles down now because they took over, nothing wrong with replanting blue sprure and white pine now… Doing what we did not 50 years ago.

              And what used to be meadow 30 years lodgepoles have taken over. thinning them…thats a good thing, Not a bad thing for wildlands we actually altered in the past.

              Something has to be done in places fire has been suppressed. because of mans encroachment into wild places. We are protecting structures and people over the health and diversity of the forest…. and we have created our own disasters that take away from the better practices of returning our forests to a healthy state. Time to pay for Wildfires out of the emergency fund and not out of the forest services pocket.

            • James I put more effort than most into not ‘believing’ anything. Words are simply words. When people begin to ascribe *motives* beyond what fact supports, those folk are believers. I was simply trying to suss out what you believe, and more to the point, what you require others to “believe”.

          • 1. Semantics. Seems like people call it to mind, but just saying “the cut” or “cut,” Like cut down trees.
            AND some readers may be reconsidering their use of the term “harvest”. And some readers will have gained some guidance and text to help others reconsider their use of the term “harvest”,
            as to cut down trees and label it as “harvest.”

            2. given the organi$ation (AFP FGA ALEC . . . )of MT, and the conservative biases of rural Montana, and the sin-dicated VIEWS OF THE NEWS OF MT etc, “counter productive” consequences must be evaluated. That’s what patriots do. What’s good for us all?

            And what’s good for Montana forward into 2016 Elections,
            given all the above “players”?

            Open, inclusive, helpful communications and links here on ID!

    • James, would it not be appropriate for you to share
      your reality observations on how to fund/budget for
      wildfire reduction/suppression/clean-up and re-vegetation.

      Better yet, how best to advance the issue. Say in Print also in Politics.
      It is a hot burning issue and you have a lot of attentive readers. Many of us appreciate your experience and expression.

      Best yet, might be your commentary on merits/de-merits of proposed priorities of Senator Tester approach to budgeting for wildfire costs.

      That’s easy for me to say because i’m 76 and rely upon
      people much more informed than i ever was.

      • Thanks, Bob. I plan to do that after this fire season concludes.

        • http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86458

          Imagery of night time view of fires in Northwest.
          Also day time image of smoke plumes downwind of those wildfires.

          Any LEE newspapers presenting big picture maps,illustrations, imagery
          of this record smashing fire season, of interest to people in Montana?

          Local LEE paper seems to avoid big picture views. So far focuses in on
          a special fire attack helicopter and an improved color for fire retardant.

          James, the above is one of the many reasons I am very glad you’ll be working on an after season overview of Montana region wildfires of 2015. Very glad.

          Myself, i’ve stopped doing long comments, transitioned to information graphics, like the following link to drought outlook graphic up to Jan 1, 2016.
          (Thanks to NOAA for continually improved graphic display of “outlook”
          of weather.)

          ((It’s been amazing to watch the weather “outlook” graphics come true year after year.))

          http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Drought/

  11. Senators working to fund for wildfire costs.
    http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=f96001ae-a326-4765-8d5e-9561bfbe1578

    Think it’s time for Congress to fund for disasters like hurricanes and wildfires,
    but don’t get how Rep. Zinke thinks? Check out how much public timber he wants to cut down!
    http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/zinke-s-forest-bill-return-to-fundamentals-for-winning-chance/article_6a391df9-bbbc-5d55-893a-149aeb71af7e.html

    Want to understand the freshman Representative from Montana? Go back to a master journalist:
    http://lastbestnews.com/site/2015/01/from-the-outpost-zinkes-early-votes-not-encouraging/

  12. You can call an ace an ace OR a spade a spade, but it still takes at least 35 years for a tree to grow big enough to cut for lumber . Not everyone is concerned about the need of a big arsenal of words to communicate facts. As for the Sierra Club, as with any organization you no doubt are going to get some wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  13. I think Ms. Duffy’s suggestion to have Congress act to treat fires as a disaster and her supporting reasons were excellent. I would add a couple of things, and preface by saying I am completely ignorant of the USFS budget. First, if you are the manager of a more or less fixed annual budget, which includes an item that can vary greatly from year to year in an unexpected way and can be a large percent of the whole, along with items that need to be done and can be planned, you as manager are going to have a difficult time deciding how to allocate funds and work. Second, I note that the federal fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30. If true for the USFS and I am a manager, I’ll have to get deep into August before I know how much I will spend on firefighting. By then, there isn’t time to do much on other items before the end of that fiscal year. So, my additional thoughts make me even more supportive of Ms. Duffy’s appeal.

    • Thanks Pete!!!

      • Any good guesses how much money should be budgeted for wildfire costs October 1, 2015 through end of September 2016??

        USA exports of wood and wood products to China are soaring.

        How come USA has to pay for wildfire costs
        (prevention,suppression, repair and restoration)
        of USA wood/wood products imported into China??

        How about such as a “Wildfire Cost Recovery Levy”
        on USA wood and wood products exported to China, Japan,England and proposed TPP trading partners?

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