To the Editor:
This year has been a traumatic year for rural communities in the Pacific Northwest. As has been the case in prior years, this year a common comment from USFS management has been, “We need more money to fight fires!” It is almost a mantra every year.
With such a financial bind the USFS is in, why is closing and decommissioning roads such an important factor for their management of OUR public lands? Roads are vital to so many of the uses the public has for public lands. A Forest Supervisor even admitted earlier this year the current (non-travel management plan) road system is a large factor in quick and successful initial attacks on fires in his forest. Several firefighters have stated how appreciative they were of roads and how much easier their job was. Roads even used as FIRELINES.
September 11, 2015 photos were taken of a dozer re-opening a closed road in order to gain access to a wildfire. In one photo 3 USFS pickups and 1 USFS fire engine was parked with several forest service employees standing and watching the dozer. This dozer and operator was hired to travel up and open the road. When they are done fighting the fire, it will most likely be re-closed. Is closing, opening and then again closing roads a good use of tax dollars? Are the new bills in Congress going to be paying for these sorts of things? The issue isn’t a lack of funding, it’s a lack of efficient use of the funds given them.
The ideology behind protecting public lands is a dream that doesn’t factor in reality. The reality of financial situations, public safety, the reality that these lands were intended to support local economies. The reality that without logging, without restoration and without active management, we will continue to choke on more and more smoke and burn up more and more tax dollars on idiotic actions like I explained above. Eventually there won’t be communities to protect from fires and the USFS won’t have any reason to exist anymore.