Steve Pearce on Forest Management

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White Fire - 2011, View From Pink Flamingo's Driveway

Inci Web Incident Information System Report on Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire – New Mexico  – Saturday Evening Briefing

“…Firefighters made good progress yesterday on the northeastern portions of the fire. Patrols will monitor that section of the fire today. Crews monitored and mopped-up in Mogollon yesterday. Early today, resources will be rotating in and out of Mogollon. Residents should expect to see more traffic in the area.Burnout operations occurred late yesterday on the northwest flanks of the fire. A night shift mopped-up until this morning and hot shot crews will continue to improve protection measures around the cabins.Crews worked hard to improve the boundary in the eastern edge of the fire north of Prior Cabin. Additionally, burnout operations were completed around the Black Mountain Lookout Tower.The extreme western portion of the fire will become highly visible with smoke columns possible. Fire behavior is expected to back down the mountain. Flames and smoke will likely be visible to the community of Glenwood. Additional fire vehicles will be patrolling the area monitoring fire behavior.Because of the complexity of this fire, fire managers have brought in specialized resources. One of those resources includes heli-rappellers. Heli-rappellers are one of the aerial resources brought in during early stages of a remote fire, especially where there is no good landing zone. The “rappellers” will rappel from a helicopter into remote locations and extinguish fires or provide reconnaissance information. Check out this link to a short video of rappellers in action.Smoke from the fire continues to impact communities around the fire. For additional information please go to: http://inciweb.org/incident/article/2870/14038/.If you are planning to visit the forest this weekend, several closures and restrictions are in effect in several areas; please go to the Gila National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/gila for current information or contact the Forest directly at 575-388-8201….”

KRQE NEWS
KRQE

Steve Pearce my Congressman.  It is at this point that The Pink Flamingo must disclose I’ll be “co-hosting” a fund-raiser for him next week, here in Ruidoso.   I’m a bit prejudice.  Steve is a very nice person, a Christian, and an all round good guy.  He is quite knowledgeable about the environment, oil, gas, and the West. I agree with him about 95% of the time.

This is a piece he wrote for The Hill about Forestry Management.

For two weeks, a massive fire has burned nearly 200,000 acres in the Gila Wilderness and National Forest. This blaze, known as the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire, began by a lightning strike, and is well on its way to becoming the worst fire in our state’s history.

We appreciate the heroic efforts of the more than 1,000 personnel battling this inferno. These heroes put their lives on the line to help others, and show us what it truly means to be a public servant.

Still, thousands of New Mexicans continue to wonder why our forests are allowed to become powder kegs that invite bigger and hotter fires every summer. It isn’t a matter of if our beautiful state’s forests are going to burn—it is only a matter of when.

It does not have to be this way. The biggest hindrance is the U.S. Forest Service bureaucracy in Washington, which caters to extreme interest groups that stop responsible forest management. Because the Forest Service refuses to permit logging in our forests, they are overcrowded with trees that go up in flames during droughts, and invite massive conflagrations like we see in the Gila. It would be far easier to thin the forest conscientiously in advance than resort to emergency fire suppression, which risks lives and property.

Special interest groups claim that we must lock up our forests, and tie the hands of local Forest Service administrators by threatening lawsuits every time a responsible forest management policy is proposed. This must stop. Not only do these policies lead to massive destruction of our forests and private dwellings within the forests. The environmental degradation these groups claim to want to avoid occurs on a massive scale through air pollution and the total destruction of habitat, endangered species, and everything else in the fire’s path.

As chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I implore the Forest Service to unleash the creativity of their local forest rangers and administrators to prepare management plans that suit their specific needs, instead of catering to one-size-fits-all fixes that please extremists, destroy our property, and leave average New Mexicans holding the bag of ruined land and forests that will not grow. Only a miniscule percentage of our forests are set to be thinned each year, which is insufficient, and will not solve this decades-old problem.

On Saturday, June 2nd, I will be in Glenwood to tour the damaged area, meet with first responders, and learn directly from those most affected by this tragedy. It is vital that elected officials keep in touch with the people on the ground, and ensure that their personal stories are shared with distant bureaucrats in order to improve public policy. It is time to share these stories and insist that responsible forest management be implemented for the safety of New Mexicans…

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