Our Governor, Janet Napolitano, deserves hearty congratulations for her perceptive Forest Health testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Governor's testimony was right on target as she described Arizona as suffering from the forest equivalent of the "Perfect Storm." The continued drought; years of decisions to allow the forests to become overgrown; and a major bark beetle infestation, have resulted in Arizona's current unprecedented fire danger. She used Arizona as a prime example, citing the 2002 wildland fire season as the worst in modern times; over 600,000 acres went up in flames.
Restoring western forests to a healthy condition cannot happen overnight and we must keep in mind that we don't need to create a new plan for getting there -- the plan exists. The Western Governors' plan provides the basis for restoring our forest to a healthy condition and embraces a common-sense strategy. Helping our forest communities means restoring and protecting the forest in the wildland/urban interface.
Congratulations, Governor, your testimony could not have been more straightforward, thank you for your attention to this extremely important issue that faces not only Arizona, but the entire Western Intermountain Region.
Ron Christensen, Chairman, Gila County Board of Supervisors, Public Lands Steering Committee/NACo