`Let burn’ a bad policy in a drought year
I live in Burns, Colo., a ranching community in the foothills of the Flat tops. We have been choking on smoke for a week due to the flare-up of the Big Fish Fire. I have been monitoring the progress of this fire, because of its proximity, since it started on July 19. This fire could have been put out or contained weeks ago when it was of a manageable size. No, I am not being a Monday morning quarterback. The fire remained at under 300 acres for weeks after it started. The Forest Service’s website dated Aug. 8 stated that “fuels were recovering from a creeping and smoldering state due to intermittent rains.” There were no resources committed to this fire. Now it has grown from 300 acres to 13,000 acres in one week and destroyed the historic Trapper’s Lake Lodge in one of the most pristine, scenic, wilderness areas of the state. This despite assurances from Forest Service spokeswoman Sue Froeschle that adequate precautions were being taken to protect structures in the path of the fire. Now homes, guest ranches and other structures are threatened.
I realize the need to allow accumulated fuels to be consumed, but this is simply not the year for a burn, prescribed or otherwise. Not under unprecedented drought and heat conditions. Common sense dictates that a burn be done when there is moisture present, both in the air and on the ground, so that it can be closely monitored and controlled. I realize that we all owe a debt of gratitude to the Forest Service and its firefighters this summer of horrific fires, but that does not preclude the public’s right to question bad decisions. It is time for the Forest Service to re-evaluate its “let it burn” policy. It is arrogant, and places lives, homes, businesses and property at risk and we the taxpayers ultimately pay the bill.
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