Governor Talks Pot, Planes

A version of this article showed up in my “paper” Denver Post this morning. It’s an article on the Western Govs meeting. It might be interesting to compare with other western states’ press.

Here’s the quote about planes:

President Barack Obama on Monday spoke with the governors via telephone to discuss new funding strategies to fight wildfires — a persistent problem that is expected to worsen in Colorado in the decades to come, officials say. Colorado this year set aside about $20 million to contract for an aerial fleet to fight wildfires.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, joked that the other governors on the panel will now want to borrow Colorado’s aircraft and that the state “will be generous” with helping out.

Bullock, a Democrat, said Montana each year sets aside money to fight wildfires, which he said “are almost always certain.” Sandoval, a Republican, noted that about 80 percent of Nevada is federal land.

“Because of that, there has to be proportional contribution from the federal government,” said Sandoval. “We can’t afford to buy planes to put out fires on federal land.”

It seems that the western govs think that planes (and therefore retardant) can be helpful at firefighting. Not just the Forest Service (this relates to previous discussions here and elsewhere).

Somewhat Related Note: if you read this article, you will note that Governor Hickenlooper mentions the Maureen Dowd op-ed on her eating of marijuana edibles. I think it’s interesting that the views of one op-ed writer for the Times becomes fodder for the Governor of a state to discuss. And if you’re curious, here’s a rejoinder by Vincent Carroll on some background to her piece (yes, we have an online section of the Post called “The Cannabist.”).

Person writes misleading op-ed. Governor ends up dealing with it. Would that have happened if the op-ed had been, say, in the Idaho Statesman? What kind of power does this kind of national media have, and are they using it wisely? How many people will read her op-ed, compared to those who read both hers and Carroll’s piece?

2 Comments

  1. “It seems that the western govs think that planes (and therefore retardant) can be helpful at firefighting. Not just the Forest Service.”

    Well, politicians and the public seem to like a good “air show” come fire season. I suppose it gives them comfort to see planes flying over-head (“See, people are doing something to fire the fight!”) especially when they don’t know the costs, or impacts.

    I’m pretty sure nobody is claiming that planes “can’t be helpful,” but I do wonder if the “help” is worth the cost. Just like I wonder if it make much sense to fly professional firefighters into Montana from places like North Carolina, only to have those professional firefighters rake leave and needles (i.e. general property maintenance) from people’s patio.

    And please note that I make these comments as someone who has watched the fire planes drop retardant on 3 different fires less than a mile from my home over the past 10 years.

    • MatthewK

      Re: “I wonder if it make much sense to fly professional firefighters into Montana from places like North Carolina, only to have those professional firefighters rake leave and needles (i.e. general property maintenance) from people’s patio”
      1) In my day, general property maintenance was a non-starter
      2) If you have a good reason to think that you are going to need the resources, you better go ahead and order them. They are a lot more useful on hand rather than in NC. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes the commander gets it right and sometimes, not so much. Only hindsight can do better.

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