Mudshark left us another comment. We first heard from him when he commented on "The Left's Own Carbon Footprint." Again, we will comment paragraph by paragraph.
Good points, and kudos on the civility.
Thanks. There is great value in civility. People who write stuff that isn't civil simply are not read, either by their friends or their opponents. What is the point of writing, if not to be read?
My point simply is blaming "The Left," broad-brushed, oversimplifies the history.
If by "the Left," you refer to Julia Hill and the ELF, then yeah, the Left is totally, reflexively opposed to logging. And I'm not going to make hay for Democrats sneaking favors in Congress during election years. But the overgrowth of our forests is not something that happened overnight, or since the Sixties. Fire suppression essentially WAS US forest management policy as the West was settled in the later 19th and early 20th century. Fire, an essential part of a healthy forest, was entirely misunderstood as an insidious and wholly malevolent force. Overgrowing of the forests doesn't happen in ten or twenty or even forty years; we're talking about a hundred year process here, really.
We dislike the use of the terms "the left," and "the right." Unfortunately, the Democrats and the MSM think it clever to call everyone they disagree with "right wing." Birds only fly with two wings, and if they insist that their opponents are right wing, then this author will return the favor from time to time, especially when it seems warranted by their conduct. If the Sierra Club and Mark Udall are uncomfortable having their roadless policies called unreasonable, idiotic, and left wing, they will moderate them.
No, we didn't mean the ELF, and we don't know who Julia Hill is, though we would guess by your context that she is an extremist (recall that we write out of a sense of vacation driven outrage on a subject we haven't studied enough to know the players). The left we are writing about are the rank and file Democrats who gladly take campaign funds from environmental groups and then leave their common sense at home. That is the nature of politics, but they shouldn't be above criticism when they pass dumb laws, with terrible consequences.
It is not clear in this corner that the Sierra Club, the Al Gores, and the Mark Udalls have learned anything yet. They won't change their policies and positions until their own constituencies begin to speak up. That too, is the nature of politics. If an essay like the last two you commented on makes their voters and contributors think the problem through more thoroughly, then we will have made an impact. That is why civility is so important.
We won't quibble with your overgrowth history. It took decades to create the problem and it will take decades to fix it. We'd prefer that it be done in the smartest way possible, consigning the prejudice against strategic logging to the dustbin of history.
And yes, responsible thinning can help manage fire danger and even maximize the benefits/minimize the harm from wildfire. In terms of protecting property, defensible space is essential, and most property lost in wildfires burns because homeowners totally disregard this basic bit of common sense.
Add the phrase "and governments" after "homeowners" and we are in full agreement. Colorado Springs has its own "Hillside Ordinance" whose directives, if followed, promote this kind of property loss. On the other hand, the fire department provides neighborhoods free chipping services to mitigate the danger, promoting actions that are often in conflict with the hillside ordinance. The days of homeowner association required shake roofs may be gone, but that is another example of asthetics over common sense.
As for logging, sure, log the forests, but the idea that Colorado can support any kind of sustainable forest products industry with 200 sawmills is kinda ridiculous. Log all ya want, but don't chop down trees faster than they grow back.
This is not a paragraph that this author is happy to see. We have no idea either how many sawmills are in the state, or even how many were here sixty years ago. Maybe the right number is 10 or 20, given the efficiencies of modern logging. Nothing in any of these essays is intended to promote logging for logging's sake, only to promote enough to limit forest fires to smaller areas with fire breaks which would seem to us to be good interim management until thinning can occur.
And, as for Boulder, I use that example because the Boulder County foothills- essentially the areas between the plains and the Peak to Peak Highway- is one of the highest-risk areas for catastrophic wildfires in the Front Range, as far as I've been able to tell. The mulch thing is a bit of snark, sure, but there has to be some kind of balance between total moratoriums on all logging and free-for-all plundering of the forests willy-nilly. Either you agree that some areas should be set aside for other uses, or you don't, and reasonable people can certainly disagree on this policy issue.
We'll overlook the mulch if you overlook the 200 logging companies. We had a lot of fun with the mulch comments, if that wasn't obvious. Blogging is fun if you can sit in your chair and laugh out loud as you write, and that happened as we picked on poor Boulder. You served up a wonderful softball.
What is obvious, though, is that logging companies will try to open up the oldest, most easily accessible forests they can. And a lot of these lands, for better or worse, are held in trust for the public. Maybe if the federal government got market value in their timber leases, instead of giving the timber away to political allies for pennies, the Julia Hills and Forest Rescuers wouldn't get the popular support they get.
In some ways, we are talking past one another. Yes, Glacier is held in trust for the public, but the trustee failed to take precautions to preserve it out of what we both agree was ignorance without real blame. Now that the trustee has been educated, what steps is he willing to take, and what steps is the environmentalist left willing to allow him to take to preserve what remains? Six years after the MacDonald Ridge fire, the first burn we saw, there is no evidence that the trustee is taking any action beyond putting up a sign observing what wonderful woodpecker habitat has been created, and there is such a sign.
For the sake of this argument a burned forest has no value, so why would anyone care if the loggers were paid in logs (i.e. paid nothing and required to pay nothing) to quickly create fire breaks that would save most of it? The left cannot get hung up on requiring "fair value" for the logging rights if the real value the government gets is quickly established fire breaks that limit the damage any single fire can cause to a few hundred or even a few thousand acres.
Indeed, the environmentalist left's solution would be to pay someone (not logging companies, heaven forbid) to cut the fire break timber and haul it off to be buried or destroyed. That may be this author's conservative prejudice showing, but we'd bet dollars to donuts that solution will be suggested by the Sierra Club or some similiar part of the environmentalist left and proposed in Congress if the fire break solution is adopted. The left is totally lacking in common sense and completely predictable.
Libertarianism is fine, as far as it goes, but this country isn't run by libertarians, nor should it be. There's a big difference between the totalitarian conspiracy some see when it comes to resource extraction, public lands, and "the environmental left" and the system we actually have- the biggest benefit of which has been the preservation of as much wilderness as has been preserved. If people could set aside their ideological viewpoints and if the government could manage these lands with the public interest in mind, we could have healthy forests, forest industry, and preserve wildlands for future generations.
Hear! Hear! on your last sentence. We all need to work for that. Care to meet for coffee? You seem like someone willing to do just what you suggest. If you come to the Springs, we can get you onto the Air Force Academy grounds where some impressive small scale thinning has already taken place, post Hayman.
This will not be the last we write on the subject of the left's own carbon footprint.