North Fork Fire: A viewpoint

By John Kegg

There is only one villain, "ENVIRONMENTALISM."


Tuesday, August 21, 2001  7:00 PM
North Fork, California

I have just come in from not only watching the fire two miles to the north east of me but also a convoy of aid and relief vehicles wind there way up our main road into town.

Looking at this as an overall picture I can clearly see the wastefulness of the environmental standard of ecology as it applies not only to the inhabitants of rural communities but to the surrounding environment and health of the forest as well, and the tremendous cost to the taxpayer at large and the reduction of necessary services by the USDA Forest Service.

Candy and I drove up to the school to watch this fire climb ever up at an alarming rate, wrecking an undiminished path of destroyed habitat and timber.  As we watched Candy said "What a waste."  I inquired to the reason for her statement she looked at me and said that all that destroyed timber could have been used for homes, but now it is burned waste.

As I glanced back up in time to see a tree go up like a toothpick in a bonfire, I started reflecting on the true loss.  More than what could have been construction material going up in flames and smoke, it was jobs and the pride that goes with them.

Our community has been entirely crippled by ESA, EPA and timber reduction, our sawmill is closed forever and many of our working inhabitants have had to relocate.  The town is desolate, the downtown area is home for druggies and drunks, rundown and deserted in many ways.

What I saw go up in smoke, flame and ashes was pride, the pride of employment, the pride of family and home and the pride of community.  If that timber had been harvested instead of being allowed to burn, it would have kept our local economy healthy, our citizens here, employed, happy and proud.  Instead due to a handful of agitators playing on the emotions of the unknowing public and legislators we have nothing to show for this 2000+ acres we have lost up to now.

If you take into account the people who have had to be evacuated, those whose inconvenience and loss the Red Cross is attempting to alleviate, the inconvenience and the suffering of those that are ill and are now in a shelter, you see the sad side affects of this fire.

Throughout the night, on the scanner, I heard the calls as the Sheriffs Dept. went back for people's lost medicine (or lost people), as they were evacuated from the Trails End area of Douglas Ranger Station Road.  I heard the conversations on the evacuation of the livestock that was left behind.  I can only imagine the hurt and feeling of loss that these people felt as they left their homes taking only what they could carry, not knowing if they would be returning to a smoldering ruin or the home they remembered.

Then I thought of all the different fire vehicles that have come in, from Fresno, Hanford, Seaside and other locales, coming in to help a small community survive, risking their lives for strangers, working firelines on steep, rugged and unfamiliar terrain.  And what of the communities they left behind, that are much more weakened in their own defense against local catastrophic fire?  So needless and wasteful.

It feels like an early winter is going to set in, at least an early fall.  We will have no vegetation to hold these slopes during rainstorms, thousands of times less than what would have been disturbed by a logging operation.  The environmentalists said that logging's erosion damaged the forest by removing vital nutrients and topsoil that were washed away during rains.  What is going to hold these nutrients and topsoil now that the forest is being decimated and destroyed due to bad environmental policy?  What now is going to cure this damage?

Finally the question has to be asked, "Would this fire have happened if there had been logging in the forest sections that are affected now?"  Most certainly there would have been a fire, but with underbrush minimized, trees thinned and access roads provided it would have been more easily contained and far less damaging to both private and public property, wildlife and air quality.

So who is the villain in this scenario.  It's not the Forest Service who's policy comes from Congress and Washington DC.  It's not the loggers; they're virtually gone.  It's not the residents, they just want to live.  There is only one villain, "ENVIRONMENTALISM."

No one wants to see the forest destroyed, but the environmental groups alter policy though lawsuits and lobbying that cause just that, they cause untold damage through their ignorance based on emotionalism and financial greed and not the intellectual study and understanding of the actualities of forestry and silvaculture.  They preach the false doctrine of preservation and natural cycles, forgetting that man is a component in this scheme and has been long before their Marxist leaders were born into this world.

It is time for reason to be returned to the management and shepherding of the forest, there is no place for emotional management of our resources.  Bambi is not in the equation, a mule tail buck is, and Bambi he isn't.

Emotionalism can only be utilized in forestry when you can wake up to a high country dawn and joy explodes in your heart to the beauty of the High Sierra's, not burnt to the ground but properly managed through time proven techniques, the techniques that have kept the west from burning to the ground until they were discarded, laid aside and unused due to environmental legislation and groups, now the forests of the west burn.

This must be stopped, reason must be brought back into the equation.  Call or write your Congressman and Senator.  Get the truth out in any way we can.
  This cannot continue to happen.


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