What’s Killing the Great Forests of the American West?

Worse, die-offs are not limited to North America-

Next summer will probably be a pretty bad forest fire season in the Pacific Northwest due to a dry winter, and so many of the forests are dead.  This is not a local problem, however, as Jim Robbins discusses in the feature article below.

What’s Killing the Great Forests of the American West? “Across western North America, huge tracts of forest are dying off at an extraordinary rate, mostly because of outbreaks of insects. Scientists are now seeing such forest die-offs around the world and are linking them to changes in climate.” By Jim Robbins. Yale Environment 360.

As for myself, I have been following the politics of forest fires since 1980 when Idaho had its first large forest fire in a generation or so. In the 30 years, I have learned that forest (and range fires too) will always be used for political purposes to further the agenda of the timber and grazing industries.

Their lobbyists know that most people don’t know that the pine beetle kill covers the entire West. They know the people don’t know that logging an area has no effect at all in stopping the spread of the beetle. They know that the public doesn’t know that dead forests are probably less flammable than green, but dry (droughty) forests.

So it is easy to predict there will be an effort to blame conservationists for the forest fires.  They have been doing it for 30 years, and they will do it next summer.  The news media should be prepared for this. I can also confidently predict most of the media won’t be.

Salazar continues Gale Norton’s “no more Wilderness” policy

New York Times editorial complains-

No ‘No More Wilderness’. New York Times editorial

Speaking of Utah specifically. Despite a huge base of roadless country, Utah has made a small contribution to the National Wilderness Preservation System compared to other Western States, especially given the high percentage of state being U.S. public lands.  Utah could stand another roadless area inventory, coupled with Wilderness recommendations, but the state delegation has not supported any Wilderness bills for the state in Congress except for one recent unique designation of a Great Basin mountain range in order to block access to disliked proposed nuclear waste disposal facility on the Skull Valley Indian Reservation.

Northern Rockies Wilderness Bill Back in Congress

Bill Would Designate 24 Million Acres of Inventoried Roadless Land as Wilderness.

Northern Rockies Wilderness Bill Back in Congress

After many years of failure, will this be the year?

By Bill Schneider, 2-11-09

This Bill is sponsored and presented by Raul Grijalva among others but is widely opposed by the usual suspects from Wyoming and Idaho…

Lummis should vote for public lands bill

Star-Tribune Editorial Board

 

Congress should pass a roadless area law

Protecting the remaining roadless areas on the national forests is not nearly as controversial as designating Wilderness areas, but these areas have no real protection under the Bush Administration, or before until the executive order by President Clinton.

The New York Times says “There Ought to be a Law” to protect them.

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I want to remind folks that there is now an excellent web site on roadless areas to which you can upload your photos and comments. http://roadlessland.org/