Now, what are we going to do about it?! The first thing we have to do, I believe, is to relieve Smokey The Bear of his duty as manager of our forest and grasslands. We need to seriously question his forest management credentials because Smokey has done more damage to our forest and wild lands than all of the arsonists that ever lit a match.
Here it comes, mothers everywhere will cry out in unison, “You’re sick Jack Varian when you question the most revered bear in the woods who pontificates about the proper management of our forest and woodlands!” How could you possibly bring dishonor to this symbol that has taught generations of us to believe that his methods of forest and wild land management are above reproach and then you sully all of his friends like Bambi, Thumper Rabbit and all the Blue Birds that Walt Disney dreamed up to live in an enchanting forest that just doesn’t exist and never will. Walt created a setting designed to give us all a case of the Warm Fuzzies that could only be cured by a trip to the movies to see Bambi.
As the throngs depart the theaters across our land there’s a ground swell of anxiety about how to save our forests. The perfect storm has been created. Enter the public relation industry that knows nothing about forest health but a whole lot about human emotions. “Let’s see, we need a hero to save our forests and here he comes freshly painted by some commercial artist… Say hello to Smokey the Bear with proper hat on head and what will become his famous rallying cry, ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES.” That statement is a fraud, an affront to reality. So let’s stop believing that somehow we are going to make fire disappear from our forests and grasslands by using Smokey the Bear teaching.
Instead, let’s use some science and common sense; then we can make some management decisions that recognize that fire has always been a part of the environment and always will be!
I think what needs to happen now is a new strategy that takes part of the budget from the U.S. FOREST SERVICE and from CAL FIRE. We should spend some of these bucks on a very lack luster, tedious, totally devoid of any chance to be a hero job. This not glorious, but quite important job will be a person correcting 100 years of governmental mismanagement by removing the decades of understory build up that has happened when Smokey was running the show. (By the way Mother Nature and Indian tribes in times past did it for free with cold fires that kept the dead wood under control.)
Then, and this will really upset all the died in the Wool Tree Huggers, we need to do some tree thinning. Some of it could be done by a lumber company, joined by Cal Fire and the U.S.F.S. I’m sure this lumber company wouldn’t mind if some official monitored their methods of harvest.
Reading from Bloomberg Businessweek: Last year, the federal government spent $3 billion putting out fires. This is five times as much as 20 years ago. California expenditures have doubled since 1998 to $1.6 billion.
The Valley Fire took the lives of four humans, 2,000 structures, and the lives of countless domestic and wild animals. If that is not a wake up call to challenge the status quo, then there is no hope for us to solve all the other problems that take common sense to carry the day.