President Trump has pitched science out the window and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is following his lead.
In a rant at the White House on Monday, Trump claimed that the reason for Western wildfires is poor forest management. He said, “You can’t have dirty floors. You can’t have 20 years of leaves and fallen trees... . That’s why you have so many fires.”
He called for “cleaning” and concluded that it would mean “you don’t have to have any forest fires.”
In December 2018, Trump issued an executive order to agencies to put this theory on the ground. So, the BLM spent $2.1 million on a cleaning proposal.
It is holding hearings on its “Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Fuel Breaks in the Great Basin.” One will be Tuesday, July 16, at the BLM District Office in Twin Falls.
The “fuel breaks” would cover 11,000 miles on 223 million acres in six Western states. They look like dirt roads. After they are cleared of vegetation, they would be reseeded with native and non-native plants.
The head-scratching only begins here.
Supposedly, the breaks will slow down wildfires and make them easier to douse.
On maps, the breaks are just tiny, black squiggles. It’s impossible to tell where they would be. This makes hash of any chance for intelligent public comments.
The proposal is a mess.
With climate change accelerating, the proposal is like knocking down buildings to save them from arsonists. It will tear up the West in the service of a president who doesn’t know a Pulaski from his elbow or a forest floor from a parking lot.
The “cleaning” would be a dirty deed.