Once again, I have to say that I am totally against shutting down government as a policy tactic. I think it’s interesting to watch who calls out which negative effects (e.g., National Parks, wildfire suppression).
There are slightly different versions of this AP story in different places. Here is the one from Colorado Politics. The basic story is that Democratic western senators wrote a letter to President Trump pointing out the negative effects of the federal shutdown on fire preparedness.
Conservationists and fire managers say there are other concerns.
Clearing and thinning projects and planned burns on federal land that could lessen fire danger by weeding out flammable debris also are largely on hold in California, Oregon and elsewhere. Private contractors say they have received letters telling them to stop the work.
There’s already a backlog of such projects in federal forests in Oregon and Northern California, said Michael Wheelock, president of Grayback, a private contractor in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Intentional fires can only be set in a narrow winter window before temperatures and humidity falls — and that is rapidly closing, Wheelock said.
“Every week that goes by, it’s going to start increasing the impact,” he said.
Notice that in this version “conservationists” are included in those who want “clearing and thinning projects and planned burns.”
Yet the actual letter by the Senators did not mention those activities specifically.
Beyond the significant implications of halting firefighter training and recertification efforts, the shutdown is also delaying critical forest health projects across the country. Press reports indicate that hazard tree removal, pile burning, and other important forest restoration activities are on hold indefinitely. By stopping these important forest management activities, during the very winter months when it is safest to carry many of them out, you are needlessly putting people and rural forested communities at risk.
(My bold) For those of us who talk about this all the time, hazard tree removal is not the same thing as thinning, and pile burning is not the same as prescribed burning. Was this just an inexperienced staffer who wrote the letter, or a careful parsing of words? Or would it not be OK to say that efforts to reduce thinning and prescribed burning are “needlessly putting people and rural forested communities at risk?” Are western Democratic elected officials in an awkward spot? Would they have to support “thinning without logging” or “burn piles, don’t use the wood” to not put “forested communities at risk” and also satisfy their environmental group supporters who are against selling thinned trees?