Do any of you subscribe to this magazine? And if so, did you see the article entitled, "Smokey & His Bandits"?
I read two pages, and it literally gave me a headache. Not the article itself, but the stupidity contained therein. You've GOT to be kidding me!
I'm trying to see if I can accurately sum it up without making anyone's head explode.
Okay. Here are some basic highlights of the article (what I've read so far...seriously, guys, HEAD ASPLODEY):
-The Forest Service was encouraged by Congress (not that they argued) to sell timber to raise money for "conservation". Think about that for a minute.
-When that fell through (due to environmentalists stating the obvious oxymoron), they started fabricating information to present to Congress to get more funds for fire prevention - because, hey, prevention was the name of the game at that point. The cheer of the FS at that point was, "Hooray, Hippies!"
-This resulted in a lot of money being given to the Forest Service in order for them to tell rural residents to NOT light maintenance fires on their property, which in turn resulted in MORE devastating fires than there had ever been before in those areas. The Forest Service blamed this on "superstition".
-A professor said, "Hey, guys? You know, you HAVE to burn small maintenance fires every so often to keep fuel (i.e. dead matter) from accumulating, right?" The FS answered, "LA LA LA LA WE CAN'T HEAR YOU!!" Then, when FS found out the same information, they stuck fingers in each other's each and chanted that phrase within the company.
-They also denied to the public that these findings were, in fact, true. What a great agency.
-At some point during all of this, Congress issued a "blank check" policy to the FS that was basically like this: If FS used any money fighting emergency fires, Congress would pay it back in full. BAD idea. FS decided that they would implement a "10am" rule: If the fire was discovered on a Tuesday, and it wasn't out until the next day (Wednesday) at 10am, then it was declared an emergency. Thus, they could get their unlimited funds from Congress sooner.
-These funds were partially used to pay employees that FS had hired outside of their normal budget.
-"Security" measures were implemented for fire fighters to not have to get near the wildfires, so that fewer men/women would die while, erm, fighting the fires. How did they do this? By setting "backfires" to burn the fuel before the wildfires could get to it. Uh...wasn't that what maintenance fires were supposed to do to begin with?
-These "backfires" caused up to 30% of fire damage, and one memorable fire ended up burning 400 homes in Los Alamos. Inexplicably, after this disaster, Congress INCREASED the budget for FS.
That's as far as I've gotten. I feel things so viscerally when I read them sometimes that it makes me physically ill, or actually angry, and I'm too tired to be able to keep that sort of thing in check right now. It's amazing how sitting around and doing nothing will wear you out. I guess it's from constantly being on alert for something to possibly do.
Anyway, back to the article - WTF. That's it. That's my commentary. I hope I summed it up enough for you. I wish I could link to it, but for some reason the magazine doesn't have it printed on the website in the archives (which you can find here).
I'm just totally flabbergasted.