Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mother Nature Bats Last

The Vail Daily News has some Mark Udall quotes from his Aspen fundraising trip. It appears that a few of the questions we suggested did get asked, if only indirectly.

The congressman then turned back to a waiting gathering of reporters to discuss the infestation of pine bark beetles that is laying waste to huge sections of the state’s mountain forests and prompting growing fears of wildfires.

“We can’t stop the march of the beetle,” Udall said. But, he added, the federal government can reduce the risk of forest fires in communities surrounded by forests.

He pointed to a bill that is in the early stages of consideration in Congress, the Colorado Forest Management Improvement Act of 2007,” which he conceded is “as much about preventing catastrophic wildfires” as it is about forest health. Among other things, it calls for the creation of “fire-risk maps” to aid officials in determining which areas need the most help, and the quickest help...

“We can’t come up with enough cash” for the government to do everything necessary to protect communities from forest fires, Udall said.

“In the end, Mother Nature bats last,” he said. “We just want to keep the game going.”

For a very long time, Mark Udall and his Sierra Club buddies have fought against thinning and the road building that would allow thinning. Home owners who thinned forest land near their properties on their own were breaking the law, and probably still are.

Now he says "We can't come up with enough cash." to fix the problem he fought hard to create, and continued to fight hard to create as late as this year by blocking access to roads on Federal lands.

Instead of trying to save the forests, Mark Udall is trying to avoid the embarrassment of seeing whole Colorado communities burned to the ground, knowing that he would bear direct responsibility.

The pine beetles could have been stopped, and probably still can be stopped or significantly slowed. Mother Nature does bat last, but we don't have to throw her forest fire side softballs.

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