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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Thomas Gallatin / Sep. 19, 2017

Forest Stewardship vs. Environmental Fanaticism

Trump addresses the growing problem of western forest fires via the promotion of responsible logging practices.

The West is on fire. While Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have held much of the nation’s attention, folks living in the more sparsely populated western states have been enduring another natural disaster. This summer alone some 47,000 wildfires have destroyed eight million acres — that’s an area the size of Maryland. Not only have forests, homes and wildlife habitat been destroyed but air pollution levels have spiked in the West’s normally pristine mountain air. And the ugly truth is that over the past several years the frequency and size of these western forest fires have been increasing.

What has caused this problem? While ecofascists like to blame climate change, the real culprit is misguided government policy. During Bill Clinton’s time in office, new Forest Service policies were enacted to appease environmentalists. These policies sharply reduced logging and roadbuilding in national forests. It is this mismanagement practice by the Forest Service that can be tied to the increase in disease- and insect-infested forests, which have become literal tinderboxes ready and waiting to be ignited.

Not only have the Clinton-era policy changes proven destructive to America’s forests, they have been financially costly. Before Clinton, the Forest Service spent 16% of its annual budget fighting wildfires; in 2015, it was over 50%. Since 1990, more than 450 firefighters have lost their lives fighting wildfires, many of which could have been prevented had responsible logging been allowed.

The solution to poor logging practices is not to shut down logging but to promote responsible logging. Forests are valuable renewable resources that should be constructively managed, not left as tinder for the next devastating and massively polluting wildfire.

This is a bipartisan issue within local communities affected by these fires, precisely because the cause of the problem is undeniable and the solution is an obvious one. However, that hasn’t stopped out-of-state environmentalist groups from seeking to stop responsible national forest stewardship. In Montana, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan are suing to stop the state from thinning the Flathead National Forest. One would think that these environmentalists would embrace practical solutions for protecting the environment and decreasing air-pollution, but no. Once again an illogical emotional ideology trumps any rational solutions for these ecofascists.

Thankfully, Donald Trump’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, who is from Montana, is aggressively acting to correct the Forest Service’s mismanagement problem. Last week, Zinke issued a memo to park and land management officials instructing them to aggressively begin clearing out dead and dying trees on federal lands. The memo states that the aim is to “proactively work to prevent forest fires through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction managements to save lives, homes and wildlife habitat.” It will take time, but hopefully, through proper forest management the threats posed by these massive forest fires will significantly decrease, and the West’s forest will be healthier for it.

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