One of the things I’m interested in is looking at forest policy and public lands issues in a way that de-emphasizes partisan politics. In my view, partisanizing issues leads to more heat than light, and also divides people, intentionally. I support people who work across the aisle, listening to each other and working towards agreement. Hyperbole is said to be the language of politics, and sometimes it is difficult or impossible to find facts through the jungles of hyperbole, truth-shadings, and “false facts” put out by the different factions and their media allies.
If we look at some western governors and how they approach issues, perhaps we can see how they are influenced by the ideology of their political party compared to the pragmatic need to solve problems and support the people in their state.
One way to do that, is to look broadly at what Western Governors agree to about the West, our problems and potential solutions.
Here’s a recent letter they wrote to the EPA:
Wildfire and Prescribed Fire
• More frequent and intense wildfires are steadily reducing the West’s gains in air quality improvement. Smoke from wildfires can cause air quality to exceed the NAAQS for particulate matter and ozone, impacting public health, safety and transportation. Prescribed fire, which is managed according to state SIPs and smoke management programs, can reduce these impacts, but is currently underutilized.
• Western Governors support the use of prescribed fire to reduce the air quality impacts from uncharacteristic wildfire in the West. Federal and state land managers should have the ability to use prescribed fires when weather and site conditions are appropriate and air quality impacts are minimized.
• Prescribed fire practices should include smoke management planning coordinated among state land managers, state air agencies, state health departments, EPA, other federal agencies, federal land managers. State or regional prescribed fire councils can help facilitate this coordination.
• Western Governors call on EPA and federal land managers to improve existing tools and create additional tools for states to encourage prescribed fire. These should include an exceptional events guidance for prescribed fire, and tools to address the air quality impacts from wildfire in the West.”
Here’s also a link to two webinars on prescribed fire, smoke management and regulatory challenges.