Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wildfire, or controlled burn? Your choice

From wildfire ravaged Southern California, comes this AP story on the difficulty of controlling underbrush due to environmental regulations and litigation (or the threat thereof):
"This brush was ready to explode," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district overlaps the forest. "The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today."

Prescribed burns are intended to protect homes and lives by eliminating fuel that can cause explosive wildfires. The wildfire that has blackened 140,000 acres — or nearly 219 square miles — in the forest over the past week has been fed by the kind of tinder-dry vegetation that prescribed burns are designed to safely devour.

The blaze has destroyed more than five dozen homes, killed two firefighters and forced thousands of people to flee. Firefighters reported modest progress Wednesday as investigators said the blaze was human-caused, though it was not clear exactly how the fire started or whether it was accidental or arson.

Read the article here. In typical fashion, a spokesman for an environmental group had this to say
Biologist Ileene Anderson with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental organization, said burn permits should be difficult to get because of the potential damage to air quality. Clearing chaparral by hand or machine must be closely scrutinized because it can hurt native species.

"Our air quality, for a variety of factors, doesn't need to be further reduced by these controlled burns," she said. [emphasis added]

No doubt the irony of Ms. Anderson's statement was lost on her. Instead of the air quality impact of a few hundred or a couple thousand acres of controlled burns, conducted over a period of many months, Angelinos have had to deal with the air quality impact of 140,000 acres (219 square miles) ablaze, all at once. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Not to mention the deaths of two firefighters, the destruction of over five dozen homes, and the evacuation of many thousands of families. Of course, we must all sacrifice for the sake of "The Environment", mustn't we?

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