Letters to the Editor

Birnbaum letter: Wildfires

What happens when you throw wood on a raging fire? It doesn’t take a Ph. D. to answer the question. This simple principle applies to your next camping trip as well as to federal mismanagement of our national forests.

Rocky Barker’s article on Western wildfires highlights a study that claims, over the past 32 years, human-caused climate change has doubled the wildfire-burn area in the West.

Though that study’s authors were quick to blame climate change, they neglected to mention the decline in thinning and logging that would have reduced the fuel loads on federal forest lands. In Idaho, from a 1970’s peak, logging on federal lands has decreased around 90 percent.

Barker’s article leads a reader to believe climate change and fire suppression policies largely explain what has changed in the past 32 years — but conveniently ignores the impact of reduced logging.

Many environmentalists want to conflate increased fires with climate change so they can avoid a discussion about thinning and logging. We in the West need only look in our backyards to see how federal neglect is feeding fuel loads that are burning our forests. Our public lands, our communities — and our families — deserve better.

Fred Birnbaum, vice president, Idaho Freedom Foundation