TCS Daily


Damn Those Humans!

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - October 25, 2007 12:00 AM

Don't you just hate it when people live where they want to live?

I mean, who do they think they are?

The Washington Post, in its Wednesday morning story on the wildfires sweeping Southern California, barely veils its wonderment, if not contempt, for people who persist in making free choices about the location of their homes. The writers, Karl Vick and Sonya Geis, can't seem to resist making the unfolding disaster a socio-environmental "teaching moment."

The epic blazes, we learn in the article's lead, are "stoked" not merely by wind, heat and dryness, but by "the human impulse to live just a little farther out."

Yes, it seems that people are still choosing to leave the more densely populated city cores to find cheaper housing and, dare we say it, more room out on - as the Post calls it, "the suburban frontier."

The result, we are reminded, is the dreaded "bedroom community" with its fatal signatures, the "manicured lawn" and nearby "fast-food restaurant."

In noting a second fatality from the fires - a motorist caught in flames near Santa Clarita - we are told that this small city north of Los Angeles "summons the iconic suburban landscape of Steven Spielberg movies, its rows of almost identical freshly built houses snugged as close as possible against the surrounding tinder-dry hills."

The areas burning most fiercely, we are told, are "among the fastest growing in the United States." The Post admits that "the move into these hills is for homes that are more affordable," but, it notes that the result is "bedroom communities that push what ecologists call the 'urban/wildland interface.'"

The Post article quotes a University of California professor and author of a social history of Los Angeles, who informs us that one can drive out some of the mountain passes in Southern California and find "new houses standing next to 50-year-old chaparral. You might as well be building next to leaking gasoline cans."

Well! There's an image - evoking dreadful "new" houses, threatened "frontier" flora and a fuel spill to boot.

Then, to tie it all together, the Post article quotes someone named Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics, who is involved with "a study showing that 50 to 95 percent of (U.S.) Forest Service firefighting costs went to protect private property" (emphasis added).

Private property! Who knew? Doesn't that just encourage those damn humans? Think of it. They dream of living somewhere "farther out" and somehow they presume in their dreams that some reasonable effort may be made to protect their private property. Why, if this keeps up, people who live on the edge of Washington, D.C.'s sprawling Rock Creek Park will expect firemen to try and save their apartments and houses if a fire breaks out in those lovely woods.

The Post duly chronicles the amazing reaction of these California humans and their importunate dreams. "Yet even huddled in evacuation centers and fast-food restaurants, displaced homeowners declared they would not live anywhere else."

One homeowner whose house was threatened said, "We will stay. We like the community, we like the area. The people are nice." Another property owner, determined to stay and rebuild if necessary, said, "Every place has something: wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. There's no perfect area of the country to live."

There's no perfect area of the country, but humans given freedom persist in moving, in going, in searching, in making their own little perfection - of home and community - amidst the imperfections somewhere "farther out.". It's the sort of impulse and presumption, if you will, about mutual protection, under which all those pesky German and Scots-Irish people left Philadelphia in their crude wagons back in the mid-1700s to push the "urban/wildland interface" into Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and beyond.

It's heroic, in a way, but it isn't amazing at all.


Categories:

87 Comments

Sue the Sierra Club
It is these left wing environmental groups that have prevented clearing of brush for fear of endangering some type of Rat or Insect that have caused a lot of these issues.

These left wing groups seek to urbanize everyone in high density housing. This facilitates both land use control and control of lives, a goal of every well intentioned leftist.

It is time we stood up to these groups and took them to court. After all, who's paying the bills here anyway?

A market correction
Te market will exact its own correction on this kind of behavior. For some of the people burned out, this is the second time around. Eventually, they won't be able to get loans or insurance on their re-replacement homes in the brush covered hills.

Or does anyone think we should have a federal fire insurance program to cover them? That would be just like their flood insurance program, that keeps beach home builders throwing up vacation mansions in front of the dunes. Those dunes are there for a reason-- they're the barrier protecting the land from the sea when a hurricane comes.

And the California scrublands are there to get burned over every time the Santa Ana comes down from the desert. If they weren't vulnerable to frequent burns, they would be tall forests.

Provide some evidence
"It is these left wing environmental groups that have prevented clearing of brush for fear of endangering some type of Rat or Insect that have caused a lot of these issues."

I'm not aware of any "left wing" plot to resist brush clearance. There are communities now across the West in areas that used to be wilderness or at least forested. All have very pro-active fire suppression programs. No one resists, saying "save the poor dead brush sitting around on the ground".

I have kids in the Colorado Rockies, in a typical situation. Every year the fire marshall comes around to tell them which trees to cut, what brush needs collecting, etc. On their own property. And he'll tell them, for their own good, if they leave the place full of tinder the FD won't try to save their house during the next burn.

They chose to live there, and know the dangers. And they have a really nice house, with lots of neat stuff. But they know they could lose it all if the wind blows the wrong way one day.

Don't give me your left wing crap. No one's whining about the rules. The West has fires. People live there. They know, or should know, the risks they take.

I look forward to your evidence that fire suppression, or the lack of it, is part of a plot to put us all up in New Jersey hi rises where we can be more efficiently packed.

The Common Defense
The most important enumerated power of the US Constitution is…the Common Defense. In my view, this includes Natural Disasters, such as hurricane landfalls and fires (the recent California fire). If taxpayers live on or near the shoreline, or on or near forests or scrublands, then the Federal Government is obliged to “defend” their lives and property. “Defend” means more than showing up after the disaster with relief money. Defend means to make all reasonable efforts to prevent or minimize widespread damage from natural events. This will only happen via a long term RD&D program to develop the technologies necessary to control fires, hurricanes and other potential natural disasters.

The California-Fire and Katrina provide evidence that substantial improvement opportunities exist in our Governments role in defending its citizens. The California carnage is not the result of Global Warming or humans disrespecting the environment, rather it is the result of our Government failing to do its primary job.

scrublands
Just how tall do you think chapparal grows?

obligations
In your opinion, how much taxes should people who don't live in dangerous areas, be forced to pay, to protect people, who voluntarily choose to live in dangerous places.

People too stupid to build an appropriately
If you build a house of straw in the path of a hurricane, don't be surprised when it blows down.
If you build a house of wood in a dry desert, don't be surprised if it burns down.
If you build a house of rocks in an earthquake zone, don't be surprised when it falls down.
If you build a house below sea level don't be surprised when it floods.

There ARE housing designs which can be used in all these hazardous environments which are very robust and are not easily damaged. They are insulated, rinforced contrete domes that have survived earthquakes, tornados and CA fires.

Trouble is, most zoning laws restict anyting new and better to protect the local stick house contractors.

Agreed
I like the libertarian Roy. You should let him out more.

Build better houses!
http://www.domeofahome.com/

http://www.monolithic.com/domenews/2005/snake-rock.html

Monolithic Dome Survives Engulfing Flames of California Wildfire

"That was a wild, wild fire," Al concluded. "But it didn't get our home."
Braswell Home
Enlarge

The Bryant Fire did, however, destroy the electrical box on the outside of the dome and cause smoke damage on the inside. Consequently, the Braswells could not live in their dome home for more than six weeks after the fire, while the electrical system was repaired, painting completed and carpeting replaced.

Additional losses for the Braswells included three antique vehicles, a foam machine, a compressor, a utility trailer and miscellaneous equipment, for an estimated total of about $300,000.
The Total Picture
Braswell Home
Enlarge

According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the Bryant Fire destroyed 550 acres of hillside, threatened about 250 dwellings and 15 outbuildings, and prompted 150 residents to voluntarily abandon their homes.

It took 675 firefighters, 21 supervisors, 87 engines, 26 hand crews, 2 bulldozers, 6 water helicopters, 11 airplanes dropping fire retardant, more than 24 hours of intense fire fighting and an additional 2 days cooling hot spots to finally extinguish the Bryant Fire. In the process, several firefighters required treatment for heat sickness, knee and ankle injuries. Estimated cost of damages: $2.5 million."
http://www.monolithic.com/gallery/homes/braswell_fire/index.html

BS Roy
I lived out west most of my life. I know all about fires. I have seen them up close. Real close. I have pictures to prove it. I could hear the trees exploding.

In California they have enacted rules to prevent brush clearing to protect habitat. Read about it.

There is also movement out west to force urbanization. It is widely published. Hell in Seattle/Tacoma you cannot use 60% of your land.

I don't make **** up just to crawl under your skin.



You can't do it, can you!
I ask you to provide some documentation for your claims and you can't come up with anything. That's because there is none. So all it does is make you grow louder.

So dreary.

The drive to save some areas in Washington State from overdevelopment is a matter of zoning. A majority living in those areas want there to still be some natural habitat around their homes, instead of wall to wall subdivisions.

You can be against the concept of zoning if you like. But you can't relate that to any evil Greenie plot to keep dead brush on the ground. Nor is it anything like forced urbanization. So, wrong on both counts.

2. Maybe you meant live brush, not dead brush. ("In California they have enacted rules to prevent brush clearing").

Let's suppose San Diego Country enacted an ordinance to clear living brush, on the grounds of its being a fire hazard. What would be the result?

1. All you'd have left would be hills of bare dirt. No one would want to live there. And no wildlife COULD live there.

2. Erosion would gully the place out in a year or two. At the first heavy rain the soil would wash off the hillsides in the grand daddy of those familiar Southern Cal landslides.

Bright idea? I think not.

Guess where I went on vacation this summer? Out to the Arapaho and Routt National Forests, in northern Colorado. They're running around 70-90 percent dead trees now in the lodgepole pine forests. The dead brush, in the form of trees still standing, is stacked eighty feet high across thousands of acres.

You can't get any greener than me. And guess what I want? They can't clear that stuff off fast enough for me. If they don't, they're going to be having the Superstorm of all forest fires next year.

But you know so much better than I, what I want.

Obviously, must be the ELF
Your comment is typical of the baseless mudslinging we're seeing more and more of in American life.

Do we have any evidence that fires were set by the ELF? Not one whit.

Would such arsons be likely, considering the announced strategy of that organization?

Again, pretty unlikely.

Yet you can say it without giving it any thought. That's just like when the Murrah Building got blown up. Immediately, lots of people said "It's those damn Muslims! Let's go git em!"

Why don't we just wait until they pick up the perps-- in arsons like this they almost always do-- and see whether they aren't just the usual drug addled teenagers and lonely dweebs that comprise the profile of the typical arsonist.

"Just how tall do you think chapparal grows?"
From the pictures we're seeing on TV, it grows in patchy clumps in San Diego County, with groves up to maybe 25 feet high. Which accords well with the way the place looked when I was there.

The only big forests are up in Pine Valley (they're oak, actually), maybe sixty miles east of downtown.

Roy, are you really not aware...
... of environmental groups' opposition to management of forests, and "brushland"?

Healthy Forests Intiative, and a bunch of enviro-blowback:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/healthyforests/
http://www.forestsandrangelands.gov/

Here's the Sierra Club's take:
http://www.sierraclub.org/forests/fires/healthyforests_initiative.asp

From EPIC:
http://www.wildcalifornia.org/publications/article-57

From Common Dreams:
http://www.awitness.org/journal/drought_sept_2003.html

The Wilderness Society:
http://www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/SoCalWildlandFires.cfm

KOS:
http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Environment

And for the record, it's not ALL chaparral:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/21/GA2007102101410.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/21/GA2007102101410.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/21/GA2007102101410.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/21/GA2007102101410.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/10/21/GA2007102101410.html

But, just in case you were thinking that the environmentalists would be okay with burning off or thinning out chaparral, here's the California Chaparral Institute's page:
http://www.californiachaparral.com/boldgrowthchaparral.html
Heh. "Suggested treatment: Leave the office, take a walk into the chaparral with a few children...they have the uncanny knack for helping adults rediscover their natural (and often buried) appreciation for nature."
Just don't forget your fireproof hiking gear.

California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter:
http://www.cnpssd.org/fire/FireEssay2003.pdf
I haven't read through everything on their page, but this letter from the chapter's president following the 2003 fires appears to sum up their position: at all costs, don't increase brush control zones around housing.

Hey, Mr. Reading Comprehension.
Did you notice the usage of the words "may" and "perhaps" and the use of a question mark? The question mark is the thingy that looks like "?".

It could be that I owe you an apology (that I need to tell you that I am sorry). Since the word "perhaps" has two syllables (sounds), I am using words that are too big for you.

More likely, you are being intentionally obtuse and are twisting words to personally attack people who don't tow your twisted, immoral line, since you have no answer for such people.

By the way, if you follwed the links, you would have seen that the ELF do have a history of such activity, and are legitimate people of interest.

Goodbye. You are incapable of rational discussion.

Who pays.....
"Then, to tie it all together, the Post article quotes someone named Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics, who is involved with 'a study showing that 50 to 95 percent of (U.S.) Forest Service firefighting costs went to protect private property' "

Typical idiotic statist this Ray Rasker. Just who does he think pays for all the firefighting cost anyway? It sure has hell isn't his beloved government. No, as usual it's all of us private property owners who work and get hammered with taxes on everything from our property to our income (also property).

Kat & the Big Easy
I loved the following statement of yours, rb:

"They chose to live there, and know the dangers. And they have a really nice house, with lots of neat stuff. But they know they could lose it all if the wind blows the wrong way one day.

Don't give me your left wing crap. No one's whining about the rules. The West has fires. People live there. They know, or should know, the risks they take."

Not being privy to the sum of your rants post Katrina, one wonders if you sang the same tune? Please disclose.

Save the rat
"In addition, 29 homes were destroyed in the fire because the residents were afraid to clear brush
and vegetation away from their homes to create a firebreak, as they usually do when the Santa Ana fire
season approaches. It turns out they had been notified by the FWS that disking a firebreak might harass
the rats."

http://www.cei.org/pdf/2342.pdf

Rat protection prvented tilling, caused fire and chased rats away????
"Cindy and Andy Domenigoni are fifth generation farmer/ranchers. Their farm has traditionally
been home to the Stephens’ kangaroo rat, listed as endangered in 1988.
In 1990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ordered the Domenigonis to stop cultivating their
800 tillable acres, stating this would constitute a “taking” of the rat, for which they would face impoundment
of their farm equipment, a year in jail, and/or a $50,000 fine for each and every taking of an
individual rat. For three seasons their fields lay idle and they lost $84,000 in foregone crops each season.
In 1993, after a fire destroyed 25,000 acres, including kangaroo rat and human habitat, FWS
biologist John Bradley authorized the family to plow their fields, having determined that the kangaroo rat
no longer lived in the area. However, Bradley said the k-rats had left before the fires because the brush
and weeds had grown too thick for them.
In addition, 29 homes were destroyed in the fire because the residents were afraid to clear brush
and vegetation away from their homes to create a firebreak, as they usually do when the Santa Ana fire
season approaches. It turns out they had been notified by the FWS that disking a firebreak might harass
the rats."

http://www.cei.org/pdf/2342.pdf

Earth Towns are Easy
I happened to listen last night to a fellow who lived within the now-scorched area who said that the people who move there can literally erect a town almost overnight.

They all get their permits more or less at once, they all start construction, and almost overnight there is a whole new town where there once was nothing.

Doing things that fast means there was not a great amount of attention paid to long-term ramifications, the environment, and so on and so forth.

You were saying good stuff,
but then you summed up with, "rather it is the result of our Government failing to do its primary job."

Not according to the man on the scene sometimes called the Governator.

He says if people have found anything to complain about with regard to the handling of the tragic wildfires, they are just people who are looking for something to complain about.

You could counter, why do I assume he's a plain dealer?

Well, I don't know. It might have something to do with the fact that he doesn't need the money or the fame that politics brings, so he just might be one of the very few politicians that are giving honest assessments...

Who has failed? How have they failed?

And if anyone has failed, it is NOT the feds; it would have to be state and local government.


That is called
losing the Rat Race.

Rats, of course, do mean more to the government than human beings.

After all, the government is made up of far more of the former than the latter.

50-year-old chaparral
While the ecozone may be fifty years old [actually probably over a thousand years old] the chaparral ecozone should never go 50 years without a fire. In fact, it should really burn nearly every year since there are actually plants whose seeds must burn in order to germinate.

Where to live
Another property owner, determined to stay and rebuild if necessary, said, "Every place has something: wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. There's no perfect area of the country to live." He left off Urban Blight, Violence, Pollution, Disease, Poverty, etc.

Privatize Insurance & Fire Fighting
I have no problem with people choosing where they live, but let's not forget that people living on the beach in hurricane zones or in a fire/mudslide/eartquake zone in California are going to expect Federal money when the inevitable disaster strikes. The Federal Government should provide $0 for anything less than a three standard deviation event. Let insurance companies pay for fire fighting or fighting beach erosion, and they can pass the cost onto their customers. When the bill comes, I bet many would freely choose to move somewhere else.

Wahhh
In WA forests, especially the National Forests the greenies have stopped logging, fire road development (in the name of wilderness areas) and thinning of trees. In fact, after Mt. St. Helens they tried to prevent logging of the felled trees.

Clearing deadwood prevents fires and encourages new growth. IN addition, logging and back burning is useful and fires actually promote growth of new timber. However, if you saw this many dead trees thank the Greenies.

We used to clear them. One the one hand you tell me I am full of it and then vindicate what I said.

Which is it?

Dang it pearle, you stole my response - ROY read akpearle's response a learn; BTW some of it is abou
and then some. way to go! i can't believe roy thinks this stuff isn't happening. When I lived in San Diego in 1981-85 it was happening. Right in the middle of older developments even. A friend of mine owned a house in North Park that was on a hillside. He owned all the land to the highway, but he was not allowed to touch the brush growing on the hillside below the area of his leveled off back yard. He just fenced it off right at the beginning of the downslope and ignored it, even though he paid taxes on all of it and, actually, owned it.

The same in Rancho Bernardo, Sante, Clairmont Mesa, Poway and Ramona. all a person has to do to know why is read the Sierra Club website, or the California Native Plant Society, or any one of a hundred other groups in California. These left-wing nut-jobs have also gotten a lot of their wacky idealistic crap put in as policy and even as law, both locally and statewide.

Obviously it's the LDATDSSE
those would be the green fedayeen ELF subsidiary, aka the Lonely Dweeb and Addled Teenage Death Squads to Save the Earth.

Oh, and on the charge of mudslinging, refer you to
every post of yours addressing the U.S. military.

Wonderful take-down!
It's a magnificent pin in the first period.

BTW, I named my truck after you.
In your honor I have named my 4x4 F250 truck Ol' Roy.

Did I tell you I love my Carbon Footprint?

Live and let live...
Live and let live where you wish, just do it on your own dime.... Please do, be my guest, live where thousands / millions of acres burn nearly every year, live and build homes on 70 degree inclines, or in communities under large steep slopes, then, when it rains/pours for days on the scorched plant life-less earth, you could be swept away, just don't ***** to me about it, or expect the taxpayers to keep paying for it.... Living below sea level in New Orleans, building homes at the tide line on the outer banks, or near volcanic activity is no different.... Back in the 60's there were 150,000,000 people living in this country, now there are 300,000,000.... I realize they have to live somewhere, but perhaps it might be more prudent to think through the safety of ones family vs the location of ones house.... "Blazing the new frontier" by driving out to your chaparall in the holler in your new Prius hybrid probably seems like a good idea until you are frantically trying to load it full of your personal effects in time to escape that age old/yearly natural occurance, wild fire.... The town and builders, against the advice of the chemical company built low cost housing at Love Canal too, turns out that wasn't such a good idea either.... Come on folks, lets pull those pointy noggins out of your behinds and start putting some thought into these important life decisions....

I....
I'm pretty sure the US Forest Service is funded by all of the tax payers.... Not only by property owners...

Yeah, my response was lame
I am so ashamed. I was simply to busy making money.

Good library work
Thanks for the exhaustively gathered tutorial, ak-- but I think you're confusing two different things.

Here's dkos:

"Purpose is to increase logging on public lands by removing legal and policy constraints, including the ability of citizens to effectively oppose illegal and destructive actions. Sold and resold as "must thin to reduce wildfire risks," but the Bush Admin has only proposed 40% of the HFRA funding necessary to actually perform real fuels-reduction work -- thinning from below and removing small-diameter fuels immediately adjacent to at-risk homes and communities in the wildlands-urban interface (WUI). Instead, under HFI/HFRA the USFS and BLM have returned to aggressively logging in roadless areas and old growth forests, often far from any human community."

As is very evident, they are not against fuel reduction, small diameter cullings, gathering of brush or extensive activities conducted near habitation. No one could be against that.

What they (and I, for that matter) object to is such a program being used as a beard to allow access into roadless areas of true wilderness-- areas where the record shows an extremely low vulnerability to fire.

The California Chapparal Institute and the Native Plant Society raise a more disturbing issue. They are asking for protection for environments that prior to exurbanisation were not particularly great fire hazards. But now that people are moving in, they are becoming more and more frequently burned over. And as a result, the thinking is they must be cleared.

Certainly chaparral looks to a lot of people just like weeds, and would be better gotten rid of. But clearing this stuff doesn't just degrade, it REMOVES the environment-- and gives you bare dirt. To me that's not an improvement, but a desperate measure just arising from the crush of population needing homes further out.

Again, a formula could be determined that commands clearance within 100 feet of dwellings, perhaps, leaving the greater countryside in a natural state. But no homeowner would approve such a bill-- they, like me, enjoy living in a context with trees and shrubs near their house.

I have a friend living outside Yuma, where there's not a blade of grass anywhere. His fire risk is zero-- but I could never live in such a place. It's as unrelieved as the surface of Mercury.

Would you not agree that a balance needs to occur, where dead buildup is removed as a part of your local or state taxes, but the greater face of California is left in something as close to its original state as can be achieved in a six billion person world?

I'd like your take on that.

1985? Scroll your perceptions forward
I am taking ak's comments very seriously, and have looked closely at his helpful citations. I wish you would take a look in turn at my response, "Good library work".

First, let me allow that things are a little different today than they were back in 1981-85. The art of fuel reduction has moved forward. And it has a long way to continue moving forward. We don't do the same things now that we did way back when.

(Parenthetically I see a lot of this kind of thing here. We're mostly a bunch of geezers, and it's common to see attitudes that fossilized some time in the deep, Cold War past. Let's move our perceptions forward and get current on the action.)

Second, another observation. People here seem to see things in the most simplistic of black-and-white terms. If there is not total and uncritical acceptance of something, the person must therefore be against it. And the demonization begins, the old war of Good and Evil.

No one is against fuel reduction-- especially in areas of post-urban sprawl. But I think it's very sensible to oppose clearance of all brush and weeds per se because of suburban sensibilities. It's just sad that people who insist on a neat, trimmed environment have to push into areas where the natural ground cover looks scraggly and unkempt. There should continue to be a place on earth for jackrabbits and kit foxes.

And the Healthy Forests Initiative has certainly been used by timber interests as a cloak for access to wilderness areas with ultra-low burn risk. Certainly your mind can be open enough to nuance to see that we can simultaneously hold the two opinions:

Dead brush, particularly in areas near habitation, should be strictly controlled by the county or state, and

Timber companies should not have uncontrolled access to established old forests with low fire risk.

Another codicil I would add: the people who benefit from clearance contracts should NOT be the same people who write the rules the legislators consider. That's a very old game, and just inviting abuse through the front door.

But I think I'm just flapping my gums here. I have every confidence you're just saying to yourself "Yup. Just another wacky idealistic nut job with his socialist ideas". Oh well, at least I tried.

"Environmental policy should be guided and not dictated from Washington, D.C."
I think you might agree with the authors of this article

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3488/is_n10_v78/ai_20146512

that there are many instances where federal policies are a disastrous fit for local situations. The kangaroo rat episode is one such. Policies should be flexible. This one is a case where the landowner knew more than the people who drew up the law, and was not allowed to act.

I also agree with the thesis of your pdf article, "Expansive government control of land means that many land-use decisions are based upon
political considerations, rather than on economic or environmental grounds. Often, bureaucrats in
Washington, D.C. make management decisions with little regard for the needs and concerns of wildlife
and local communities. As a result, federal lands are routinely mismanaged and are a drain on the
American taxpayer."

Typically the people writing the rulebook try to balance the needs of people who want to save the environment and those who would like to cut it and sell it. Naturally, such a compromise frequently serves no one very well.

However I disagree with the approach that since the federally owned lands programs lose money, that ownership should be taken away from them. Timber, mineral and other resource contracts should be let at a profit-- or not be let at all. It's no excuse that the government allows people to clear our land at a cash loss, just because the companies bid low on the privilege.

I would agree instead with the article's quote from President Reagan:

"We’re so used to calling this one-third of our nation, federal land, isn’t it time we remembered that the very term means it belongs to us — to the people of America?"
— Ronald Reagan, Reagan, In His Own Hand

This is a point I've been trying to get you and others here to understand for a long time. The federal government only administers this land for us. It actually belongs to us all-- to every American. They should do a better job of management.

Development practises
That's the way they develop land everywhere across the country. The developers get their permits stamped by friends of theirs from high school, now working in local government.

My place used to be surrounded by woods. Not wilderness, just a quiet place full of fox and possum, and coons and wood owls. Last year nearly all of it-- 400-odd acres-- got scalped, the stream diverted and the dirt all regraded for quarter acre lots.

Forget the fact that the droughts we're getting are more and more severe now. That's 1600 new families on city water and sewer lines. And 400 acres of pavements and storm sewers, so the rains no longer soak in but get run off to some discharge point.

And with the regrading, whenever we get a good rain there's a red river now, running across the road. The deer all left at the start of blasting operations.

But I'm told we shouldn't stand in the way of progress-- it's all GOOD. Of course we're being asked to float a new bond, to build a new school for the newcomers.

I'm with you. I can't help but think this could have been handled better.

Inane disagreement
You're becoming kind of a tiresome jerk.

The comment you object to: "They chose to live there, and know the dangers. And they have a really nice house, with lots of neat stuff. But they know they could lose it all if the wind blows the wrong way one day."

And your response: "No one's whining about the rules. The West has fires. People live there. They know, or should know, the risks they take."

You're saying exactly the same thing I am. Yet, when it's coming from me, it's "left wing crap".

What is it when it's coming from you?

How about 2003?
http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=12401

Litigous environmentalism stands in the way of preventing disasters. Just like Katrina and the levees.

Fire follows the roads in
I agree with you about the need for good management practises-- both for forest health and for fire control. But cutting roads into roadless areas is not the way to go.

Fires follow the roads in. It's not unknown for a roadless wilderness to generate a fire... but it's far more rare than fires in the cut over places. If you look at the West in recent years, more and more of the fires are exactly where people are moving to. There are more breaks for the wind to come down to ground level and more occasions for ignition.

Roadless areas retain moisture and keep wind out. Not very many fires.

Plus, you ignore the self serving aspect of such contracts. Timber companies have gotten the feds to pay them for cutting roads into untimbered areas and use their own definition of what is "salvage". In a worst case, the two and three inch saplings they should be thinning get pushed aside, into the streams while the big, juicy trees over eight inches, that should stay in place, get taken for prime logs. To sell such contracts as "fire control" is a big lie. The forest they leave is more vulnerable than the one they found.

2. After Mt Helens, if there were people trying to prevent the removal of dead timber they were wrong. No disagreement.

3. "Clearing deadwood prevents fires and encourages new growth. IN addition, logging and back burning is useful and fires actually promote growth of new timber."

Again, compelte agreement. But "However, if you saw this many dead trees thank the Greenies"? Off base.

These forests (the Arapaho, Routt and Medicine Bow) are mostly on slopes too steep to log out without just taking everything holding the surface together. Any work you could do there would have to destabilize the slope and set up severe slide situations.

Now they're at the red stage. And most of them will just have to stand until they reach the grey stage, and the flames take them. But there are still thousands of acres that could be cut and removed for chipping. Trouble is, there's no money in it. No one wants the job.

The consensus among NF employees is that this is just something that happens every few centuries. And that our kids and grandkids will be looking at different Rockies than the ones you may have grown up in. Eventually the succession will return to forest.

Wear it proudly
I used to have an F-250, only it was the van version. Only got 16 mpg, but I could carry a ton of tools to the job site. I really loved that old truck. Had the Sears built-in tool racks.

Green disaster
Omigod! You mean you don't blame the Army Corps of Engineers for the flooding of New Orleans? Hadn't the Times-Picayune been screaming at them for years about how insufficent their levees were? And didn't they in fact crumple in the face of a CAT TWO landfall? Wind speeds were only about 105 and dropping when it hit the city.

I remember what the Greens were saying before the storm ever came along. They said the levees shouldn't be built up so high and there should be more intentional flooding, as the Delta was disappearing and it was these hundreds of square miles of lost wetlands that were the city's real buffer against storm damage. All the silt was being carried out into the Gulf.

And they were right.

Naturally, what has happened is that the ACE has put the levees back exactly the way they were before Katrina.

Diesel
It is a Diesel. It actually gets fair mileage but considering I drive very litle it is moot.

A clarification
Don't take this wrong. When I said "They [Greens] said the levees shouldn't be built up so high and there should be more intentional flooding" I didn't mean the levees protecting the city. I meant the channelizing of the Mississippi, leaving the river in places five stories higher than the city it went past, and growing higher every decade.

http://www.lra.louisiana.gov/assets/Kusky_critique.pdf

A lot of people have figured out how best to manage the River, considering the contrasting needs of the ship traffic, upriver flooding and storm control and siltation issues. But the Corps has never done it that way. They are federally funded and opaque to all input.

Of course there was no political corruption in LA?
Let's see how the new Republican governor gets along.

The democrats have really done a good job.

" Federal agents searched the Capitol Hill office of a Louisiana congressman under investigation on bribery charges Sunday, while newly released court papers said agents found $90,000 in cash last year in his Washington home."

"In New Orleans, the recovery will be much, much harder. The city’s government has long suffered from incompetence and corruption. Just weeks before Katrina, federal officials indicted associates of the former mayor, Marc Morial, for alleged kickbacks and contract fraud. Morial did nothing to attract diversified private investment to his impoverished city during the greatest economic boom of the modern era."

http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_08_31_05ng.html

"opaque to all input."
That's the price you pay for your big government.

Off point
In a complete change of subject, there has always been corruption in Louisiana. It's a tradition.

I wish Bobby Jindal sall the best. But trying to uproot this entrenched tradition is not going to result in any sweeping changes. They tried that in DC after Mayor For Life Barry got kicked out. It didn't work. Barry was gone but the cronies were still cemented into place.

The ACE is a different bunch. They've never listened to anyone-- including the Louisiana establishment. But thanks for making this into another idiotic Democrat vs Republican issue.

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