Seems like you can’t talk about national forest management these days without also talking about wildfires. As an environmentalists I’ve gotten used to being blamed for wildfires no matter what the truth or the reality really is. Heck, environmentalists were even blamed by Montana Senator Steve Daines for this summer Roaring Lion Fire on the Bitterroot National Forest…even though that fire was started by some irresponsible teenagers and a lawsuit against a proposed timber sale and roadbuilding project in the area was filed – not by any environmental group – but by a local homeowner/property owner who happens to be a former U.S. Forest Service smokejumper and the owner a wood products manufacturing company. Go figure.
From the Missoulian:
In the decade between 2006 and 2015, humans started nearly half of the 73,110 wildfires on national forest lands.
Campfires were responsible for one-third of the 33,700 human-caused wildfires in that decade. Those fires burned over 1.2 million acres.
This year saw 8,500 acres burned in the Roaring Lion fire outside Hamilton. Four young people were charged last week with negligent arson, a felony, for allegedly leaving the campfire that started that wildfire, which destroyed 16 homes and cost $11 million to fight.
“It’s a significant issue for us,” said Jennifer Jones of the U.S. Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management office in Washington, D.C. “We have a finite number of fire personnel and equipment. The more that we have to allocate to fight human-caused fire, the fewer we have to fight the fires we can’t prevent, which are those caused by lightning.”