Monday, June 3, 2013

The Bible Says, "In All Things Moderation." But who cares?

I celebrated my birthday yesterday by taking a hike out in the local preservation property only to find the place still smouldering from a forest service "controlled burn."  Being the nation of binges that we are, it's really no surprise, but it just gripes the hell out of me every time I run across bureaucratic binges gone wild.  In this case, it all started a few years back with the Yellowstone wildfires that burned millions of acres in the nation's largest park.  The theory of the cause of the fires was that after decades of fire control, underbrush and thatch that would have normally burned from lightening strikes had built up over the years until when they finally did burn, it turned into an out of control conflagration.  So now comes the forest service with their "controlled" burns to prevent such things from happening in the future.

When in the hell are we ever going to learn to just leave Mother Nature alone?

In decades past, and even today, the forest service was established not so much to look out for the nation's state and national forests as they would have you believe, but to aid and abet tree farmers by protecting their crop from fire.   So the nation went on a anti-forest-fire binge to the point that... nature could not run its course and mega-wild fires were the result.  Remember, Smokey Bear says, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."

So, following the Yellowstone fires, the naturalists were finally able to have a voice in pointing out that the ecosystem "needs" an occasional wildfire, and in fact, many species of pine only seed following a fire.  So in true bureaucratic fashion, it is now Standard Operating Procedure to start the fires ourselves as a fire suppression strategy.  Here goes the binge.  "This area needs to be burned every two years, on time, on schedule, by the clock.  We can't just let these people and equipment sit around idle waiting for a random lightening strike.  After all, we've been to school and... we know what's best."

Here's the rub.  What about the tens of thousands of small things that perish in these fires?  Everything from box turtles to caterpillars, field mice to earth worms.  What about them?  Don't they count for anything?  Can't these numbskulls see, and I mean "see" with their very eyes, what a balanced ecology looks like?  The answer is, no, they can't.  Foresters see trees.  Fish & Game sees animals.  Ecologists can see the big picture but they are each busy protecting their turf and none of them talk to each other.

You want to continue fire control efforts on the millions of acres of tree farms that most people think are forests, OK.  But how about letting Georgia-Pacific and Rayonier and the like pay for it and not you and me?  In the meantime, leave our parks and preservation properties alone and let Mother Nature take its course.  

Of course, there are going to be times of drought when the landscape is dry and large wildfires are the result.  That's the whole idea.  Our only concern with natural fires should be protecting adjoining private property.  Period.



On one side of the fire break charred remains.  On the other, Mother's exquisite beauty.

18 comments:

  1. Oh I totally agree. Why we think we know better how to manage a planet that has done so well without our interference is beyond me. we humans are an arrogant bunch. we must control everything around us. unfortunately, that control usually leads to destruction of one kind or another.

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    1. Maybe the worst thing to happen to mankind was "God" giving dominion of the earth to mankind. Of course, in those times mankind really was toe-to-toe with nature for survival. Times have changed.

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    2. Once again I'm in total agreement with you. Giving humans dominion over the earth was pretty much the death knell for anything humans don't like. This is the very dividing point between east and west. In eastern thought, we are a part of nature. In western thought we are apart from nature.

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  2. everyone has their idea of what is important to protect and no one is talking....sounds about like how it works...oh i know how it should be done....listen to me..i am educated...oy...

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  3. I can't say I agree with you 100% but I agree with you a lot. You said some things I've thought in a general way but not specifically. Thank you. I live in the South in a rural area in the woods and since you can't burn anything anymore, the tick population here is unreal. From the first warm days of Spring to late Autumn it is a daily chore of checking both myself and my cat for ticks. You can forget about having a medium or long haired dog unless you want to spend a considerable amount of time every day going over every inch of his body. I've tried Frontline and other flea/tick prevention stuff. Not only do they not work very well but my cat knew what was about to happen after a couple applications and determined he was having no more of that.

    This situation has developed in the last 30-40 years. When I was a kid we spent our summers playing in the woods and getting a tick on you was rare. People still burned off areas of their property. I realize allowing the public to set fires is a scary idea nowadays and have to admit I'm a little uncomfortable with it myself but *scratching* dang, I hate these ticks!

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    1. You might have hit on the only good thing I can think of about controlled burns. I too have noticed the increase in the tick population but have always thought it was because of the mild winters of late. I have read how ticks had decimated entire armies during the Civil War but could never imagine it until a few years ago when visiting Jeckyll Island and I picked 28 of them off of me. No fun at all.

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  4. "What about the tens of thousands of small things that perish in these fires? Everything from box turtles to caterpillars, field mice to earth worms. What about them?"

    Exactly. In one of California's recent wildfires, the news headline only talked about how many vacation homes were threatened. I don't mean to downplay the tragedy of somebody's home burning down, but these people chose to build their 2nd or 3rd home in a fire-prone area. The wildlife didn't have that choice.

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    1. As for the field mice, if you have a house near, they become house mice - so no sympathy there from me. Have to admit they are cute but like squirrels (which are also very cute) - very destructive! RE: new wiring harness on my car; new roof on my house and many smaller expenses.

      But really when people burn areas of their property, we are not talking big fires if they are handled properly. Most, perhaps all, will escape the flames.

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  5. Agreed, except for the ticks. I HATE those things.

    Also, talking about going on a binge... I hope you had a very happy birthday.

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    1. Thank you Susan. No birthday binge, well, maybe a couple of martinis.

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  6. ...what a balanced ecology looks like?

    Don't know if my following statement conflicts or supports your premise but a balanced ecology on both the North American continent and the world in general ain't possible with so many people running about. It will be a serious bummer but I figure Mama Earth will at somepoint cull her spoiled human children down to a more manageable number.

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    1. The Population Bomb. As George Carlin use to say, Save the earth my ass. The earth will do just fine, it's us who are in trouble.

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  7. Population bomb? Some countries are having the opposite problem. If it wasn't for greed we could feed everyone quite comfortably. But that's another whole conversation.

    I found this post quite interesting and thought provoking! I love how Government finds way to hang on to employees forever...

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  8. When TR established the USFS it's primary mission was to prevent over-use of the land and trees by ranchers, cattle and sheep, and logging. It wasn't until after WW II that it became a middle-management lackey of GP and other lumber kings.

    Now, it is so entrenched in the micro-management of the land, that I doubt it'll change. Also, we're so divided as a nation I doubt there could be any consensus as to a direction. There is a constituency for more roadless wilderness, for building roads in existing wilderness areas, more use and less use of existing forests. For example, here in Montana there is a size-able population that favors killing all the wolves outside the Nat'l parks, and a large minority that want's to protect them from all hunting.

    Like any issue in our present climate, no group want's to compromise or seek a middle ground. It's 'never give an inch', 24/7.

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  9. I hate to see the controlled burns, too, and I'd love to see more land just reserved to go back to its natural state.

    Incidentally, there;s a passage about being temperate (in the sense of self-control) in all things in the bible, but the moderation saying was Aristotle's.

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    1. I knew there was a reason I liked Aristotle.

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