Thursday, October 1, 2009


By Jim Beers
My Minnesota paper informs me "that investigators are searching for clues" to the origin of the latest catastrophic California fires that have taken the lives of firefighters and destroyed numerous homes and their families' belongings. While I take no issue with just punishment for anyone causing, either intentionally or accidentally, a fire; when speaking about "who caused the fire" there is a long list or perpetrators that go unmentioned and unnoticed.
For instance:
-What steps have California Governors, Legislatures, and Universities taken in recent years to change the plant communities that quickly create an abundance of fire fuel annually on public lands?
-Why is there no discussion of non-native plants to supplant the mostly native species that cause such devastation?
-Why is there no discussion of road patterns to serve as firebreaks and access for firefighting? ---Why is there no discussion of encouraging grazing and tree-cutting regimes that pay for themselves and even generate much-needed tax revenue and precious jobs?
-Why is there no exploration of state incentives to restore logging and timber mills or markets for sheep and goats (both of which eat the fuels that otherwise soon become hazardous in California climates) and their many products?
-What has state government done to force federal agencies that own and ("manage" is an untrue depiction of what they currently do) close so much of what was originally California wood, brush, and grass lands that once supported California families but now endanger California families, homes, infrastructure, and budgets?
-What have state government or the media done to refute the federal canard that the agencies "need more money" to reduce fire fuel accumulations on "federal" lands when grazing, logging, road development and maintenance by users have financed fire management and local communities steadily through carefully managed uses of renewable natural resources throughout the last century?
-What is state government doing to stop and reverse the federal trend to make all federal lands roadless wildernesses that are inaccessible and unavailable for public use, revenue generation, and public enjoyment while they accumulate fire fuel at the fastest rate possible?
-What is being done to break the absolute hammerlock that extremist environmental organizations and radical animal rights organizations have on California land management? --
-What has California done to tone down federal demands such as not allowing any brush management where a certain rodent is said to desire to live?
Why have state and federal politicians as well as state and federal bureaucrats been allowed to create these catastrophic fire fuel sumps in the midst and surroundings of California families, homes, and communities? Did the Founding Fathers not see two of the primary goals of government to be insuring "domestic Tranquility" and promoting "the general welfare": how then can we tolerate state and federal governments that do neither? Unlike most "whodunits", clues as to whom and why are everywhere we look. Clues, like failed responsibility and blame, abound.
Positive steps are obvious to any sensible observer:
-Proactive management of plant communities without regard to how long the plants have occurred in California on federal, state, county, and private lands should be mandated on the public lands and encouraged or required for the general welfare on private lands.
-Politicians should demand such solutions and Universities should reacquire the wherewithal to provide such solutions regardless of nature veneration by "scientists, current searches for bogy-men like global warming and "stressed" ecosystems, or specious claims about native and non-native species.
-Private and sustainable uses of plants on public and private lands should be encouraged to reduce or eliminate fire fuel accumulation. Grazing, logging, and other plant uses by private enterprise should be encouraged and managed by government land "managers" to greatly reduce fire fuel accumulation.
-Economic activities that are supported by the use of renewable natural resources by private enterprises should be explored and encouraged to generate funding for government "managers" and local communities to use for fire prevention and other purposes like schools and roads.
-Roads on government lands should be encouraged to both enable fire fighting and fire prevention as well as to allow uses that generate funds to otherwise manage the lands for public uses: wherever feasible such roads should be constructed and maintained by user fees from those public lands.
Note to the reader, I have written about all this before:
-Recent fire-related deaths of firefighters and homeowners seem to be tolerable to Californians. -Property and tax losses in the Billions must be endurable to California rulers and their cohorts.
-Tax bills in the Billions for things that could not only be accomplished without tax money but that would generate user fees and taxes seem to be of no importance to Californians that once upon a time supported the senseless lockup of enormous deposits of Utah low-sulfur coal that could have generated power in Utah for Californians in the midst of a "power crisis".
-Like the revered mountain lions that kill and maim Californians while devastating desirable wildlife species ("yes, Virginia, there are desirable and undesirable wild species"), Californians seem to value cougars and "scientifically" designated plant communities above human lives, local communities, and a citizenry that supports a government rather than the other way around.
Today's papers abound with California's self-immolation of San Joaquin farmers (and the income they provide the state and local governments) in favor of a fairy tale about a certain fish. These fish like the smelt here, the suckers up by Klamath, and the snail darters in Tennessee are merely Lilliputian versions of wolves, that is to say they are surrogates for environmental cabals and all-powerful central government advocates to bring America to heel for their own purposes.
The sea otter debacle off the California coast and its impact on abalone is now a matter of history. Contrast this California sea otter veneration with the current whale worship including killer (oops I forgot we are supposed to call them "Orcas" to make everyone love these killers of the N Pacific and Bering Sea) whales that have greatly decimated the cute sea otters of the Aleutians. If any Californians complained, I must have missed it.
Californians are not alone in these regards: the great "Ivory-billed Woodpecker (extinct for six decades now) March to the Sea" (by bureaucrats and environmentalists, not Sherman) in the South differs from the search for The Abominable Snowman only in the regard that the Yeti doesn't generate millions in federal funding and serve as an excuse and hammer for agencies and The Nature Conservancy to buy and ease more land while shutting down more rural activities (and increasing fire fuel accumulation by the way).
So when they find "who started this fire" I am sure we will all be outraged and call for the maximum penalty. One recently convicted California arsonist is on Death Row as I write this. Another "arsonist" was convicted here in Minnesota recently. He was a Washington DC resident who had loved and enjoyed his N Minnesota cabin every summer for years. He was convicted of letting a garbage fire get away and thereby causing a conflagration. The fact that about a decade before a Minnesota storm downed million of acres of N Minnesota trees that were not cleaned up (much less logged as in "forest management") and soon became fire fuel in search of a match in his area because of federal Park rules, well that went unmentioned. The poor man went home and committed suicide in his garage. No doubt some similar punishment will be meted out in California and we will all think that will help avoid future conflagrations, if only we can pass "Cap and Trade" and "get more money in the US Forest Service budget"!
But it will all work out for "the best". Governors will get reelected. Legislatures will go back to fleecing people. Politicians and bureaucrats will get bonuses, health insurance, and hefty retirements. Environmental organizations will continue reaping their rewards. Government land ownership will continue expanding. Government land agencies will show ever-growing deficits for operations and maintenance budget requests while getting more and more land control. Universities will wail about "warming" and find ever more tiny groupings of heretofore-unnoticed plants and animals to justify government funding for themselves, private property restrictions, and the expansion of government agencies and power. All of these things have never before had a central government (White House and Congress) more favorable to and sympathetic about such problems because the California fire "crises" are viewed as more "opportunities" for imposing larger agendas. Such is "the best" in America today.
The California fire crisis is a symptom of the wider problems faced by more and more states. The more urban the state, the more advanced are these natural resource issues caused by fictitious "science" claims and gullible voters that are but symptoms of the larger national affliction hobbling this country today. The best analogy that comes to mind is that California is like an old Yosemite (how appropriate!) Sam cartoon where Sam goes to draw his two guns and they start going off in his holsters and he rises up off the ground in outrageous fury while failing to realize that he is the source of his own problem. I hereby nominate Yosemite Sam as the State Cartoon Role Model of California.

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