Don`t just let it burn

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Having just read a letter from a Professor Fernanda Santos letter in the Aug. Missoulian entitled “Some wildfires simply can not be fought,” I think her letter sounds just like articles written by most National Forest Service people. In other words, they have a lot to say about nothing.

For one thing, unlike a fire in properly thinned forest which is sometimes beneficial, a fire in forest which is not properly managed burns so hot that it destroys the nutrients in the soil making recovery a lot longer. Following the Forest Service’s “let it burn” policy, these fires also become harder to manage and therefore are more likely to lead to property damage, unhealthy air and possibly the loss of life as we have just had here in Montana.

Forest should always be properly thinned and wildfires should always be extinguished as soon as possible and never allowed to burn until there is a “perceived” threat of private property damage.

I believe this is just another example of why the National Forest should be managed by the states in which they exist. The judges within these states are more directly responsible to the people than federal judges and therefore less likely to rule in favor of out-of-state environmentalists, who are less likely to be concerned about the economics, property loss, the health of residents breathing the smoke filled air, or loss of human life than those residing within the state.

As a taxpayer I am tired of firefighters saying that they were hired to fight fires, not to put them out.

If our congressman and governor value private property and human life they should demand a congressional investigation into the question of proper forest management and the National Forest Service “let it burn” policy.

—John Rice

Missoula

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