Fires in the mountains |

Fires in the mountains

Framing a response about Rep. Scott Tipton’s Forest Management and Water Rights missive is tricky.

Tipton supports the thought that cutting the forest to reduce fuels is the best way to manage our forests and laments the complexity of protocols the U.S. Forest Service uses to determine what is appropriate for forest husbandry. My observations of the difference between a “planted” clear cut and an “untouched” beetle kill forest is that the untouched areas recover much faster, maybe due to the sheltering by dead standing timber. Because the Forest Service uses the scientific method to improve habitat and multi-use interests, including gas drilling on our forests, the Republicans have been steadily defunding the U.S. Forest Service. On top of reducing their funding, the Republicans have tied the Forest Service budget to fire fighting, so, along with having to reduce staff at a time when billionaires are creating access issues and swapping scrub oak and pinion juniper lands for rich alpine water sources, and then add a massive increase in ski area and gas drilling planning, they must also fund massive fire-fighting campaigns at a time of global warming and high, spring grass fueling, followed by windy, dry summers. Dang. God love our district rangers.

John Hoffman