Mary Mostert
October 22, 2007
Mega forest fires -- caused by global warming or the Sierra Club?
By Mary Mostert

Yesterday, 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley reported that "Global warming is increasing the intensity and number of forest fires across the American West, according to one of the world's leading fire ecologists."

It isn't global warming, which even Pelley put at a 1 degree increase in climate "change" that has caused the mega fires in Western forests. It is the "success" of the Sierra Club and a bunch of city-slicker environmentalists who forced changes in logging and brush control which led to a huge build-up of fuel in the forests. Those who know the forests have been warning for years these kind of fires would happen.

From 1975 to 1999 I lived on the edge of the El Dorado National Park in Northern California. I not only watched the changes take place, I WROTE about what would happen as a result of those changes, after listening to experienced forest rangers give testimony congress.

What those experienced forest rangers warned us would happen is now happening. It is certainly no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what has been occurring in the past couple of decades. Twelve years ago, in the April 1995 issue of Michael Reagan's newsletter, which I edited, I warned that the Sierra Club was BRAGGING about its success in destroying the logging industry in the national forests in California.

The Sierra club claimed that logging in El Dorado National Forest was killing the "old growth" forests and needed to be shut down to "save the Spotted Owl." In fact, the Sierra Club website proudly announced : "In 1993, the U.S. Forest Service put into place the Northwest Forest Plan, the culmination of a series of lawsuits challenging the aggressive logging that was stripping the Pacific Northwest of its old-growth forests. The plan reduced the rate of logging on 13 national forests in the western parts of Washington, Oregon, and California by about 85 percent."

In the 1980s, over 2.18 billion board feet of lumber was harvested annually from the ten million aces of National Forest in the California Sierras. By 1994 only 360 million board feet was being harvested in the Sierras and by the time I left California in 1999, the harvesting of lumber in El Dorado National Forest had dropped to such an extent that logging in El Dorado County, once its major industry, had almost disappeared, bringing economic disaster to thousands of people connected with logging and construction in the area.

It has been known for many years by those actually involved in the forests that the Sierra Club policies, which became public policy in the 1990s under Bill Clinton, would cause exactly the kinds of fires we are now experiencing. This is because the public has been deceived by the Sierra Club and others who have made claims such as the spotted owl being endangered.

I identified the real culprit in the growing forest-fire problem in an article in 2002 entitled, Our Burning Forests the Legacy of Radical Environmentalism:

"It was just about 100 years ago that America began to try to protect the national forests by quickly putting out any fire. About thirty years ago, the environmentalists began their determined and largely successful effort to halt logging in our forests.

"So, what has happened in those largely conifer Western forests in the meantime? They have been largely overrun by brush that creates the kind of mammoth fires we are now witnessing in the West. Fire is nature's way of keeping conifer forests healthy, as even the Sierra Club is now belatedly beginning to comprehend. Without the small regular fires that we have been putting out in our forests for the last 100 years what we now have are forests overrun by brush that not only strangles the conifers but also changes the ecology of the conifer forests.

"Instead of allowing nature to take its course in the conifer forests, 93 years into the forest policy of preserving the underbrush in our forests, a new policy was introduced that halted logging and removing dead and dying or over crowded trees and underbrush in the forests with Vice President Al Gore as its chief proponent. In his book, 'Earth in Balance,' published in 1993 he wrote, of 'the heated dispute between the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest and conservationists eager to protect the endangered spotted owl.' (Page 194)

"Actually, the spotted owl was never endangered. The spotted owl boondoggle was the result of an owl counting venture in 1972 when Eric Forsman, a city-bred graduate student at the Cooperative Wildlife Research United at Oregon State university, reported, after only a year of study, that Spotted Owl pairs were found only in areas of old growth forests slated for timber harvest. Yet, Spotted Owls in California have been found nesting in a K-Mart sign and they increased in the El Dorado National Forest in the early 1990s after a severe fire that burned a huge segment of the forest. Gore had a major role, he tells us, in implementing 'Save the Spotted Owl' regulations that reduced or stopped logging in National Forests.

"However, a widely ignored July 23, 1990, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report warned: 'Past fire protection practices in the forests have caused abnormal fuels conditions to develop" and noted that the practice of "protecting snags, dead but standing trees which are favorite nesting spots for the Spotted Owl are obstacles to fire suppression" and that "current practices are creating forest conditions that most likely will lead to large, high severity fires.'

"In 1997 I attended a Congressional hearing held in California on the issue of management of the 10 million acres of National Forests in the Sierras where the supervisor of a one of the California forests stated, 'It is not IF the forests will burn, it is only a matter of WHEN they will burn, because of the huge amount of fuel we have allowed to grow in them.'"

It is now 10 years after that Congressional hearing and 17 years after the 1990 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Report. We didn't listen to those who really understand the forests, and have now lost millions of acres of our forests.

Those trees could have been used to build homes and businesses and been enjoyed by hikers and campers if we had not given in to the Sierra Club. We also would have had trees for birds to nest in and wildlife to graze on. But, instead, they are dead because we listened to Al Gore and his friends in the Sierra Club instead of to forest rangers and managers.

© Mary Mostert


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Mary Mostert

Mary Mostert is a nationally-respected political writer. She was one of the first female political commentators to be published in a major metropolitan newspaper in the 1960s... (more)

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