Nancy Freeman sent me this link to a Move-On Petition she started with regard to wildfires:
Please mandate that Forest Service and Department of Interior agencies designate our tax money for emergency measures to prevent wildfires now. The drought in the West makes the situation urgent. According to the National Interagency Coordination Center, there are 7 uncontained and 3 new wildfires on public lands on May 31, 2014.
The Government must act now to accomplish:
1) Stopping any industrial activities in the forests that contribute to wildfire danger.
2) Clearing of excess fuel: underbrush and ladder brush
3) Creating fire lines with environmentally friendly mechanical mulches
4) Instituting fire safety education and inspections in communities located in potential wildfire areas.
See http://www.g-a-l.info/ForestFireReport.htm for detailed information.
Here’s her argument:
The major causes of forest fires are nature, lightning, and human: campfires and cigarettes; however, faulty electrical wiring, sparks from vehicles and sparks from welding machinery are common, plus flames produced by hazardous waste spills from truck accidents on public lands. An overheated BLM vehicle caused the Chariot Fire that burned 7,000 acres in the San Diego Forest in July 2013. http://wildfiretoday.com/2013/07/08/california-chariot-fire]
Since industrial projects, especially mining operations, bring all but one of these “human cause” risks to the National Forest, it is clear that an increase of mining industry in our National Forests increases the fire risk. We have two examples in the region I live in Arizona.
In May 2011, two mining companies caused fires in the Coronado National Forest with welding projects. At the time, the “Fire Danger” was at Level 1: campfires and cigarettes are prohibited; yet in both cases the miners were out-of-doors welding in May. May and June are the hottest, driest months in the Southwest, which forest fire data confirms. A further complication is that industrial sites are surrounded by 10 ft. high chain-link fences for security reasons, making it impossible for fire fighting equipment to enter multiple acres of National Forest public land, except at a main gate.
Considering there are 170 mining operations being permitted in 44 National Forests in the West [www.mining-law-reform.info/proposed-mining-projects.htm], the fire danger from industrial mining needs to be addressed. National Forest Service record of mining project on the National Forest: FSOperations Records.
Sharon- I guess my problem with this (only having worked on forestry, grazing, oil and gas, underground and aboveground coal projects, powerlines, ski areas) is that while folks out there may cause some fires, they also put them out (their own and campers’, hunters’, and so-called “natural” ignitions). I don’t know the ratio of “start” to “put out”, but I’m not sure anyone else does, either.
I am curious about the problem with gates and firefighting, not sure I’ve heard about this before.