Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Published in the International Herald Tribune<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
August 22, 2000
Letter to the editor for US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman in response to op-ed published by CEI’s Bob Nelson in the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune .
To the editor:
Regarding ''Untended Forests in Arid Country Are Firetraps'' (Opinion, Aug. 10) by Robert H. Nelson : Mr. Nelson oversimplifies the challenges of wildfire prevention and improperly points fingers at policymakers for the devastation caused during this wildfire season. Fires are acts of God. In the western United States this summer, lightning continues to start more than 200 forest fires a day. The long-range forecast continues to foresee drought-like conditions across the West. These weather patterns present a formidable challenge even for talented forest managers. Blaming the Forest Service for the current conditions is like blaming geologists for earthquakes or meteorologists for hurricanes. Mr. Nelson is off the mark in focusing on increased logging as a fire prevention strategy and in criticizing the Clinton administration's roadless policy. The real opportunities for reducing fire intensity come not from building roads or logging large green trees but from removing small trees, shrubs and down material (all with limited commercial value) through prescribed burns or mechanical thinning. Protecting life and property from wildfires is complex business. The debate about fire policy deserves more than the simplistic solutions offered by Mr. Nelson.
Washington, DC The writer is the U.S. secretary of agriculture