Another smuggler corridor wildfire and the anger is flaring upby Hugh Holub on Jun. 16, 2011
Climate Change Link to Fires
Ignites Senate Committee,
by TIFFANY STECKER of ClimateWire June 15, 2011
Of course folks in the region are suggesting these clearly “human caused” fires were probably started by someone who was …to put it politely as possible “engaged in illegal activity in the United States”. Meaning entering the country illegally or smuggling drugs illegally.
From the Arizona Daily Star June 16, 2011:
Border Boletín: Another major fire in a smuggling corridor
By Brady McCombs
The Monument Fire raging south of Sierra Vista is the latest major fire in Southern Arizona that was started in rugged, mountainous corridors frequently used by cross-border people and drug smugglers. The Horseshoe 2 Fire northeast of Douglas and the Murphy Complex Firenorthwest of Nogales also originated in popular smuggling corridors.
As I wrote about in this Sunday article — “Many in S. Ariz. fire zone blame border crossers” — there has been widespread speculation that those two fires may have been caused by illegal border crossers or smugglers even though fire investigators have said only they believe they were human caused.
The same speculation is now occurring among residents in the Nicksville/Hereford/Sierra Vista area who live near where the Monument Fire burns.
The fire started on Sunday near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Huachuca Mountains, according to this InciWeb fire information page. The Huachuca Mountains are frequently trafficked by drug smugglers and guides of illegal immigrants, visible from the many trails and tons of trash left behind up there.
Brady is doing a great job covering the border and his commentary describes the issue pretty well so please read the entire article.
We had a whole series of these fires along the trail that runs next to the Santa Cruz River near my home…until the Border Patrol pretty much shut down that smuggling corridor two years ago. The last 2 years…no suspicious fires.
While there are many possible ignition sources to start a fire, the most common that I’ve heard about …when there is no lightning, no roads, and no people around… are campfires that are left untended or cigarettes (or matches) carelessly discarded.
The fires in
question…Horseshoe 2, Murphy and now
Monument all started in smuggling corridors.
Hence the conclusion that they were probably started by illegal aliens or drug smugglers.
Making a bet now…after all the smoke has cleared it is a pretty good chance that the location where these fires started will be pinpointed….right to the campfire site or discarded cigarette…..and on a known smuggling trail.
That is not going to put a name on who started the campfire or who walked away from it or who tossed their cigarette or match into the grass and ignited the fires.
The “who” is long gone and invisible in the midst of millions of other invisible people who are now hiding inside America.
It has been the case that the federal government can be very effective in tracking down US citizens who start fires deliberately or accidentally.
Both culprits in the Rodeo Chediski fire were identified…the guy who deliberately started the fire was prosceuted and the motorist who started a fire to get help….well….
But one point of tracking down the people who started the fires is civil laibility and some of these folks actually have assets and insurance.
However, even if you could track down who started the fires around here….what are you going to get if you seek civil penalities from them if they are a migrant from Guatamala?
It is more likely that the fire starters don’t even know they started the fires…they kept going north to wherever they were going. Heck, they could get caught and deported and we’ll never be able to connect a specific person to a specific fire.
The whole point of this discussion is that if we did not have illegal aliens or drug smugglers walking through our mountains, there probably would not have been these fires.
This is not about blaming a specific person…it is about reducing the overall risk of fires being started in our wildlands.
We close our wildlands when the fire danger is high….to us. The area where the Monument Fire was started was closed to the public.
But these lands are not closed to illegal aliens or drug smugglers.
President Obama at the urging of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said our border is safe and secure…more than it ever has been.
Maybe inside the cities on this side of the border.
But what has happened is the illegal aliens and drug smugglers have been pushed into remote mountainous areas because there are still huge gaps in the border through which drugs and people can flow.
Border area residents are demanding these gaps be closed.
We don’t want people wandering through our ranches with AK 47s.
We don’t want mule trains of drug smugglers passing through our countryside.
We don’t want illegal aliens out there dying of thirst or accidentally starting fires.
We want this all to stop. Now !
I have previously posted articles about how federal land managers and environmentalists have frustrated efforts to secure the border on federal lands next to the border.
Legislation has been introduced to open up access to federal lands on the border to the Border Patrol.
We have over 200,000 acres of destroyed countryside now and it is still burning.
Mayve someone ought to give Napolitano a shovel and put her on a fire line in the Huachuca Mountains and let her feel the intense heat, breathe the smoke, watch the animals flee the flames, and hear the residents crying over their lost homes.
Maybe if the
border was finally secured we won’t have so
many fires…if there is anything left to
Climate Change Link to Fires Ignites Senate Committee
By TIFFANY STECKER of ClimateWire
"Throughout the country, we're seeing longer fire seasons, and we're seeing snowpacks that, on average, are disappearing a little earlier every spring," he said, as well as devastating droughts. As a result, fire seasons have lengthened by more than 30 days, on average.
"Our scientists believe this is due to a change in climate," said Tidwell.
Tidwell's testimony was prompted by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who used the positive response to chide committee members into considering climate change as one of the committee's key issues.
"I would just like to underscore that for members of our body, when we have discussions about the impact of climate change, the cost of this," he said. "It would be all well and good for members to understand that this is related to climate change, and how important it is for us to address and take national action to reduce our carbon emissions."
1.2 million acres are burning
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) questioned Franken's authority, given his lack of a degree in fire science or natural resources. Climate change proponents, he added, are in part to blame for the overabundance of wood that has served as fuel for fires.
"Generally, the people who talk about climate change and wring their hands about the fires are the exact same people that ... are the first ones to file a suit to stop from removing that fuel," said Risch, referring to lawsuits from environmental groups that followed the passage of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The act, signed in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush, was criticized for allowing the timber industry to operate without filing environmental impact statements.
Since then, the idea of fuel treatments, the partial removal of wood or other vegetation throughout an area likely to ignite easily, has gained greater acceptance as a practice in managing forests. An excess of biomass -- not climate change -- is the catalyst for the catastrophic fires of the last decade, argued Risch.
According to the daily fire site report released by the National Interagency Fire Center, 1.2 million acres is burning in the United States, nearly two-thirds of it in the Southwest.
Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) introduced discussion on several funding and management initiatives from U.S. public lands agencies. These include the "FLAME Act" to create a framework for budgeting resources during the fire season, and research into fuel treatments.
Bingaman tied many of this year's natural disasters to climate change in his opening address, citing the recent "America's Climate Choices" report from the National Academy of Sciences.
"Since climate change will continue into the future, we can expect the incidences of severe weather and the further drying out of the already arid regions of the West to continue," he said.
Forest Service policies frustrate Murkowski
However, climate change was not the focus of members' disapproval of current fire management. Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was quick to point to poor management and slow policy implementation as the primary factor for out-of-control fires, caused by recent cuts to the Forest Service budget as well as a strategy of tackling smaller areas rather than larger projects. Murkowski criticized the Forest Service for not implementing the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to its fullest extent. Less than a third of the authorized projects were ever completed, according to Murkowski.
"We're not seeing much as a consequence of that; there's little to show for it," she said. "I want to see more healthy forests restoration projects; I want to see more large-scale projects -- within this decade."
"As I look back on all of the lost opportunities of the last 10 years, none pains me more than the failure of our land management agencies to use those authorities that Congress has provided," she added.
Murkowski's requests are "unrealistic," said Roger Sedjo, director of forest economics and policy at Resources for the Future.
"There's nowhere near enough funding in the Healthy Forest Act to fund all of the national forests," he said. The committee also neglected to account for the type of forests in the Southwest -- pine. Unable to grow in shade, and with cones whose seeds are coaxed out with the heat of fire, pine trees evolved to rely on seasonal fires to survive.
"Basically, if you have pine forests, they're going to burn," said Sedjo. "I think [the Forest Service] is dealing with it better and better with time," he continued. "It's not so much a fault of managed maintenance; it's in the fact that fires are a part of many natural systems."