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MORRISON: Forest fires: Because they feared the greens
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
By Joyce Morrison (jmorrison@illinoisleader.com)

Forest fires in California may convince federal lawmakers that forest thinning is needed, despite environmentalists' contentions otherwise.

OPINION -- Thirteen deaths, 850 homes burned, a quarter of a million acres and 30,000 homes threatened in California at this very moment. Nine terrifying fires in California are burning uncontrollably forcing people to run in panic for their lives.

Homes, lives, property, loss of wildlife and pets -- all because of those who call themselves "environmentalists" and "preservationists."

A federal bill that could eliminate the undergrowth and dead, diseased trees that is causing these fires to burn at excessive temperatures and out of control has been under discussion in Washington, D.C. for months. The bill has passed the U.S. House, but the greens in the Senate won’t let the bill budge.

According to Chuck Cushman of Landrights Association, "Right now, HR 1904, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act is being delayed by the environmental groups who would rather have your house burn down than have foresters clean up the forests or burn a log or a bug-killed tree."

The Healthy Forests Restoration Act, a bill designed to streamline logging projects to reduce the risk of catastrophic Western wildfires, took a major hit when two Democratic senators objected to a unanimous consent agreement, according to Cushman.

Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have put a hold on the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

"With HR 1904 in the Senate, there are several Republicans who indicate they might vote for this roadless amendment out of fear of political retaliation from radical groups such as the Sierra Club and others," said Liz Arnold, Project Protect Grassroots Coordinator Interior West/Sierra Nevada.

"Out of fear of the Sierra Club and other radical groups . . ." she wrote. It's a sad day when our legislators feel "fear" of these groups and their agendas and cast their votes out of fear.

President Bush is backing the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which is an act to protect forests. But the radical greens are out to get him for the balanced approach he is trying to bring to environmental issues. Greens have threatened to target every property rights legislator who has not bowed down to their demands.

So what does this say? It should tell you it is not about the environment. Keep in mind the watermelon analogy -- it is green on the outside, but red on the inside.

It is essential that forest trails be reopened that were closed during the Clinton years. Fire equipment must be able to get in to fight these forest fires. Firefighters are dropped into fires by plane because that is their only access. There have been needless deaths because there was no way for the fire fighters to get out of the way of the inferno.

During the Clinton years, the bureaus became entrenched with extreme environmentalists and they are continuing to act upon their set agenda. It has been extremely difficult for the Bush administration to bring a balanced approach to environmental issues.

The green group, League of Conservation Voters, boasts, "When President Bush traveled to Oregon and Washington, putting the White House propaganda and photo-op machine to work in an attempt to convince the American people that he cares about protecting the environment, that unfortunately for Mr. Bush, LCV was there with a powerful new television spot telling the truth about his anti-environmental policies."

LCV told voters of Seattle that "George W. Bush cares more about corporate polluters and his special interest friends than he does about the environment."

Green groups such as Sierra Club are joining forces with Planned Parenthood and like groups to work against the re-election of President Bush. They are opposed to his selection of judges, his environmental and social stands.

Guess who gets government grants? You guessed it.

Fires can be started by arson, lightning, terrorists or whatever. The fact remains that because there has been little forest maintenance in the past decade, our nation’s forests are accidents waiting to happen.

Catastrophic fires continue to destroy habitat for wildlife, water and air quality. How interesting -- these are the very things the environmentalists claim they protect.

Good forest management stimulates the economy, the environment and the nation as a whole. Trees are a renewable resource. But in areas where there have been catastrophic heat in the burned areas, there are reports the soil remains sterile for years.

"When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in his beak was a freshly picked olive leaf....." Genesis 8:11. Noah’s first knowledge after the Biblical flood that there was finally dry land was when the dove returned with a leaf. Trees are a renewable resource, but they need care.

"The President's Healthy Forest Initiative would play a key role in helping us avoid situations such as we see on the San Bernardino National Forest today. The initiative is based on a common-sense approach to reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires by restoring forest and rangeland health and ensuring the long-term safety and health of communities and natural resources in our care," Jack Blackwell, Regional Forester testified on September 22 before the Committee on Resources regarding the Forest Health condition of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Forester Blackwell knew of the hazard that was looming and was asking for help for the prevention. The government was too late, though.

Why? Because they fear the greens.

As the Shawnee Forest in Illinois becomes more and more closed to activity, could we face the terrifying burn these other forests have experienced, especially in time of a drought?

This week there could be a vote on HR1904. Please contact your U.S. Senators in every state and demand that we take every measure to prevent these deadly fires for continually occurring.

Illinois folks, we need to tell our Senators Durbin and Fitzgerald that they need to support HR1904 Healthy Forest Initiative for the sake of our forests, and possibly our lives.

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