Pulled from a story in the Deseret News of Salt Lake City is this example of science being executed by centrally planned and clueless bureaucrats with predictable results – the destruction of private business activity, the waste of resources and the destruction of the very resources that the BLM and U.S. Forest Service are supposedly “protecting.”
John Blazzard is a fifth-generation timberman who is watching his livelihood grow brown and die year by year, and he said he’s helpless to do anything about it.
“It’s beautiful country. It leaves a sick feeling in your stomach when you see it dying,” he said. “At least it does to me.”
Blazzard is looking out over the high vista of Duchesne Ridge in the Uinta Mountains outside of Kamas, where great patches of dead or dying conifers have been turned brown by a relentless beetle infestation. The dead trees are literally a forest unto themselves, the devastation stretching out for miles.
“It’s like thousands of cans of gas out there, just waiting to go up.”
Stories like this are far more prevalent in the West simply because of the greater degree of interface between men like logger John Blazzard, and the brains at the “gubment.” As I have pointed out, about 85% of the state of Utah is owned by the federal government and managed by their agents.
Having had the true and distinct pleasure of living in the most beautiful place on earth, Park City, Utah (and buying a condo there just this week with the intent of living there again), I can attest to the accuracy of Mr. Blazzard’s comments about the Forest Service allowing the area to become a tinderbox. Park City is a short 15 minute drive from Kamas, where Mr. Blazzard was interviewed.
The D-News points out that:
As of July 6, 359,735 acres in Utah have been scorched by wildfires this year, with losses estimated by public safety officials topping $6 million.
Statistics going back as far as nine years show that 90 percent of Utah’s forested landscapes even at that time were at a moderate to high risk of catastrophic wildfire due to forest health conditions.
But the Forest Service policies are killing the very entities that they need to manage these conditions:
That staggering number, provided by the Utah Farm Bureau but taken from the Forest Service offices in Utah, accompanies what Blazzard said are federal practices that helped close the door on nearly a half-dozen lumber companies in the area. His is one of only three that remain.
His own production has dropped from four million board-feet from 15 years ago to about 1.5 million board-feet per season.
“This is something we have been doing for generations, but I am afraid that my kids, my grandkids, won’t be able to continue.”
John Keeler, the southern regional manager for the Utah Farm Bureau and the organization’s staff advisor on its Forest Service Committee, said there are really only two ways to clear a forest of its old, diseased or stressed trees: through fire or timber harvesting.
“Fire has kept forests healthy, but fire has largely been absent. Regulation is what is strangling the whole logging process, and litigation is causing that.”
And common sense and local control is out of the question in any centralized government bureaucracy:
“There was a time when the rangers would just get out and look at the nature and health of the land and be able to make a decision based on what they saw,” he said. “Now there is a disconnect between getting out of the office and getting it done.”
Like any other federal agency offering up a natural resource for lease, harvest or land-use change, the Forest Service has to conduct an internal review, put the proposal out for public comment, and wait to see what the reaction may be. Timber sales that have been offered may be protested, or withdrawn.
The federal review process, said Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark, is thorough and governed by statute, which provides little, if any, flexibility. The Heber-Kamas Ranger, Jeff Schramm, added that several timber sales are going to bid in August in the Soap Stone Basin, and another is poised to happen next year.
The solution is actually simple.
Sterling Brown, the Utah Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy, said Friday’s tour was organized as a plea to shake loose the hand of government from those who make a living off the land.
“Let us get in there and manage it in ways that are practical, reasonable and sustainable,” he said. “Two generations ago it was weather that would put the farmer out of business. One generation ago it was the volatility in the markets. Today, it is increased and cumbersome regulation.”
Since the massive fires in Yellowstone in 1988, it has been understood that to prevent fires of such a massive scale as we saw then, the removal of dead, diseased and mature timber must occur. Fire is the natural process but not really compatible with human habitation. This was made clear in the recent Waldo Canyon fire outside Colorado Springs and the little eclectic canyon community of Manitou Springs.
Michelle Malkin lives in Colorado Springs (another gorgeous place that my family has lived) and has been all over the government complicity in those fires.
With this realization, could it be the antipathy of the central planners in government toward private business that is killing the effectiveness of timber management programs, destroying homes and killing people? Are they so convinced of the evils of the bourgeois that they will sacrifice good stewardship to prevent a private company from making a profit while actually doing something necessary to the Forest Service’s mission?
Their desire for central control and subservience to the federal bureaucracy is destroying the very land that they are charged to protect.