Better forest management, including prescribed burns and strategic logging, are essential to preventing western wildfires, says Ryan Zinke, former Interior Department secretary and former Montana congressman. “Radical environmentalists would have you believe forest management means clear cutting forests and national parks. But their rhetoric could not be further from the truth. They make outdated and unscientific arguments, void of facts, because they cannot defend the merits of their policy preferences year after year as our forests and homes burn to the ground.”
Congress needs to act, says Zinke, writing in the Fairfield, Montana, Sun-Times. A few of his suggestions:
- “Prioritize prescribed burns: Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and some of the earliest Native Americans used prescribed burns to manage the range and forests. Federal law should prioritize late season prescribed burns as a management tool to clear the dense underbrush and dead and dying timber on the forest floors by granting categorical exclusions and omitting prescribed burns from state Clean Air Act compliance.”
- “Lift the export ban: Outdated policy from the 1970s made it illegal to export timber from federal lands. However the world is a different place now. Our forests are unhealthy, milling capacity plummeted, and timber prices are through the roof. Authorizing the export from federal lands would create an incentive for State, Tribal and private entities to partner with federal forests.”
- “Promote biomass [for energy]: Healthy trees are resilient trees, but dead, diseased and defective logs create a tinderbox. There is little use for this material; however it is perfect for biomass. Promoting biomass as the viable, cost-effective and renewable source of energy it is would create a market for what is currently a dangerous hazard.”
And there are more.
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