December 11, 2006

Overheated rhetoric in December

Saturday's Rocky Mountain News headlined 'Katrina of the West'.

Apparently United States senator and noted silviculturist Ken Salazar got a little overheated in a speech in Frisco, predicting massive wildfires in stands of beetle-killed lodgepole pine.

Imagine the whole population of Summit County crowded into Denver's Pepsi Center, the toilets overflowing, the air conditioning broken, no buses to evacuate them . . . you get the picture.

There are a lot of beetle-killed trees, all right. I can see some (ponderosa pine, mostly) out the window--but since we're not as economically important as the ski/golf/condo counties of Colorado, we don't get the news coverage.

And, y'know, it's not due to climate change, I don't think. And it's not the personal fault of George W. Bush.

It's the price of a century of fire suppression.

I have known real foresters, not senators, who have struggled to deal with insect infestations for fifty years in the West, and they still do not have a handle on it.

The affected trees are often not that desirable as lumber (too small). Maybe, as the article says, some could be chipped and burned for fuel.

Many, however, will make excellent woodpecker habitat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in the middle of WRNF, lodgepole beetle-kill-ground zero. I don't understand the hype either. They have locals in fear here and lots of money earmarked to clear the dead timber. Maybe it's just to get the money to our area. Frankly, I would rather have money for mass-transit (trains) along I-70. dkm