My last letter to the editor was in 2003, when Montana was on fire. Here we are 14 years later, and apparently, we havenít learned a thing! Montana has (well, HAD, before this fire season) 19.39 million acres of national forest, and another 3.443 million acres of forested wilderness area in our beautiful state.
Why are we letting people who grew up on a concrete slab influence how we manage it? There is nothing we can do about the weather. We got a lot of snow over the winter, but then, it turned 90 degrees in late June, and has stayed that way, with very little rain since. There is nothing to be done about that (you guys have your global warming conversation later). What makes a lightning strike turn into 400 acres of burnt forest? Fuel. Heat and wind help, but without that fuel source, green, healthy trees donít burn ó at least not to the degree we are seeing now.
What DOES burn, and burn so hot that a green, healthy tree doesnít stand a chance is dead, diseased or previously burnt fuel. If the areas previously devastated by fire or bug kill were allowed to be logged, not only would we stimulate our economy, but the deadly fuel lying on the forest floor in otherwise healthy tree stands would be gone, not just lying in wait for the next lightning strike or carelessly flung cigarette butt. And, while those folks go back to their concrete slabs and brag to their friends about how theyíve stopped the greedy pigs from cutting down trees, those of us who actually live here, and LOVE our home, watch it burn. I canít see the Whitefish Range or the Swan Range this morning for the smoke. How is that saving anything?
Nadine Jellison is of Kalispell.