UPDATED: Wildfires Result Of Disastrous Government Policies

UPDATED: Wildfires Result Of Disastrous Government Policies

Environmentalists Also Bear Some Responsibility
June 25, 2002

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2002—As wildfires rage across several western states, a forestry issues expert with the Competitive Enterprise Institute says they’re largely the result of a century of misguided fire suppression policies by the federal government and more recent obstructionist tactics by environmental groups.

"We had fair warning of the forest fuels crisis after much of Yellowstone National Park burned in the late 1980’s, and experts probably saw it coming long before that," says CEI’s Sean Paige. "But the federal government failed to take aggressive action to address the situation and instead adopted non-management as their way of dealing with the situation."

Paige explains that the inability of federal land agencies to actively manage public forests combined with the saturation litigation strategies of environmental groups that oppose efforts to thin-out overgrown forests have turned an estimated 70 million acres of public land into overgrown, disease-ridden, fire-prone tangles.

"The fires are symptomatic of a larger forest health crisis occurring in America—including a growing threat to public forests from insects, disease, and invasive species—which we will be powerless to address until we streamline the process, overcome the tactics of zealots, and educate the general public about the virtues and value of active human management of forests."

Although Paige acknowledges that "acts of God" undoubtedly play a part in sparking many forest fires, he says government policies and environmental obstructionism will affect whether the forest-health crisis reaches biblical proportions.

Forest Issues Expert Available For Interviews

Sean PaigeAdjunct Fellow,Former Warren Brookes Fellow in Environmental Journalismspaige@cei.org

Recently featured: Tampa Tribune, Washington Times, The Jim Bohanan Show, Hannity & Colmes (FOX), Talkback Live (CNN).

Sean's Writings On Western Fires Are Available Here:

Are Environmentalists Responsible For The Western Fires? - Hannity And Colmes - 6/26/2002

Unfocused Federal Wildfire Effort Draws Fire From State - Insight Magazine - 2/25/2002

Fight Rages Over Fate of Deadwood And Timber Sales - Insight Magazine - 12/24/2001

Wildfire Witch Hunt Will Likely Miss The Real Culprit - Insight Magazine - 8/13/2001

Dead Wood - American Spectator Online - 4/04/2001

A Scorched-Earth Debate Hits Out West - Insight Magazine - 9/18/2000

Uncle Sam Gets Burned Out West - Insight Magazine - 6/19/2000

Only The Forest Service Can Prevent Forests - Insight Magazine - 11/23/1998

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.