Wildfires Linked To Environmental Extremists As Disingenuous Denials Fly, by Tom Randall

BACKGROUND: The Clinton Administration’s compliance with environmentalist diktats on forest management has been a major contributor to the monster wildfires roaring across the U.S. Despite this, Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, issued a denial of responsibility for the fires on June 25, 2002, as have other environmentalists.

The Department of Agriculture will be investigating instances in which environmental groups prevented forest thinning but whatever they find, it will be only the tip of the iceberg. Environmental extremists worked diligently behind the scenes during the Clinton-Gore years to virtually end essential logging on federal land and get 58,500,000 acres made off limits to roads and, therefore, all kinds of human activity — including fire fighting.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Environmentalists know they played a major role in halting essential harvesting and road building that would have prevented the current disaster in America’s forests.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The Sierra Club and its allies played key roles in the Clinton-Gore years in ending essential logging and road building and maintenance in our nation’s forests. Pope, in his denial of responsibility, called for prescribed burns to reduce fuel in forests, yet he and others were part of the Heritage Forests Campaign which lobbied for and got over 58 million acres declared off limits to roads. Fire trucks are necessary for safe prescribed burns, as fire trucks can’t fly.

DISCUSSION: Dr. Tom Bonnicksen of Texas A&M University, professor of forestry and author of “America’s Ancient Forests: From the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery,” points out that prescribed burns are impossible in many areas because of the drastically overfueled condition of our forests. As one of the nation’s leading forestry experts, he claims logging is essential to maintaining the health of today’s forests.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Read Bonnicksen’s views on forest management and the current wildfires in National Policy Analysis #418, “Monster Wildfires are Preventable” at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA418.html .

Although we have grown much more timber than we have harvested every year since 1933, environmentalists successfully lobbied the Clinton-Gore administration to cut logging in our nation’s forests by over 80 percent, contributing to the heavy, hot-burning fuel loads that make fires so difficult to control.

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