I am an environmentalist.
I love the forest, I love mountain biking in the forests, I love the mountain regions of Arizona. That is why I live here.
That being said, I support active management of the forests by the Forest Service. I support the use of commercial logging companies to thin the forests. I think that these so-called environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and their members, most of whom live in cities, do not understand the forest environment.
I have spent several years working in, and living in, some of the most remote forest regions of this country. Because of my experiences, I take personal offense to their claims that they are the real experts on environmental policy. I have seen, with my own eyes, innumerable forest burn areas. I can tell you, from personal experience, what the forest is supposed to be, and how it should interact with fire.
A naturally occurring forest fire, regardless of how it starts, will burn mostly in the undergrowth and deadfall on the forest floor. A natural fire, for the most part will not burn high enough or hot enough to do much more than scar the bark on the larger trees. Even if a natural fire were to creep into the tree canopy, the larger, canopy trees are far enough apart to reduce the risk of sustaining a fire at that level. The result is a relatively insignificant fire, burning only a few acres over a few days, and the following year the forest is more vibrant than before the fire.
Our forests in the West generally have not been thinned by any means for many years, mainly because of the influence of the environmental groups. The canopy trees are so densely packed together that they often create a complete canopy over the forest floor, this is not a natural state. The undergrowth and deadfall is often so dense that one cannot even walk through the forest without having to find a game trail, this is not a natural state. These artificial conditions, which the environmental groups claim are natural, combined with the current drought, have set the stage for what we are witnessing.
It is time for our courts to recognize that fact and acknowledge the real experts, the Forest Service. It is time for the courts to stop pandering to the environmental special interest groups, and begin serving the people and environment of the United States.
Bob O'Brien, Payson