As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests…

In the NY Times today, “As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests, ‘Anger Is Palpable’ in Nearby Towns.” Take a look at the video linked in the article of trash left on the woods in Colorado. I’ve seen similar trash heaps around encampments on the Mt. Hood National Forest, near my home. Some locals tell me that there are trails they no longer use, because they don’t feel safe. I have some sympathy for the folks who are homeless, but this kind of thing is getting out of hand.

Note that funding is an issue: “The service is spending more and more of its budget fighting wildfires, and has pared back on filling some law enforcement posts, said Chris Boehm, the agency’s acting deputy director for law enforcement and investigations.”

4 Comments

  1. Before we increase funding for wildfire “investment”, we need a comprehensive audit to find out where all those dollars are going. Do we REALLY need more than the billions that are currently being spent? Again, why did the Forest Service spend all of its budget last year, by August when it were merely an average fire season? The fire folks will never answer that question without an audit waiting in the wings.

  2. Well, part of the reason might be that fire suppression is more costly, esp. in WUI zones. And the fires in Alaska last year may have been expensive due to the remote locations. An audit? Good idea. But more $$$ are needed for law enforcement.

    • Those Alaskan fires don’t cost nearly as much as the fires that burn down here, where the fuels are more dense and the terrain is difficult. Catching fires when they are small is the best interim solution, if money is what people want to address. Some people STILL insist that letting all wildfires burn is the ultimate solution. You see that mindset in the comments sections of most popular news websites. The “fire is natural and beneficial” meme is still wrong, in most examples today.

      I do have a homeless friend who lives in the woods. He has had multiple problems with fire in the past (that is why he is homeless!), and I worry that he will let one of his cooking fires get away, in the fuels-choked places where he stays.

  3. Fire certainly does have natural causes but let’s not forget the extensive use of fire by the American Indian as they managed the environment in which they lived. In many instances, I think human fire (both intentional and unintentional) was far more extensive than “natural” fire.

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