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California Burns While Socialists Fiddle

August 19, 2018

Recent history- I grew up in California. The hills behind my boyhood home would catch fire every few years. A firetruck and a couple of guys with shovels would come and put out the fire each time. That was a fact of life, and it was a good thing that the hills burned piece at a time. Today, California is sitting on a powderkeg that can burn through large portions of the state. This is how California Socialists got themselves on the hotseat.

The new state bird of California- the red tailed water bomber.

California always burned. The native indians called the LA basin the “smokey valley” because of the frequent haze from naturally occurring wildfires. Look at the California forests of the late 1800s and you see trees and brush thinned by frequent wildfire.

Nature wasn’t kind in the 1800s. Some forest fires claimed lives. In some cases, over a thousand people were killed, though that catastrophe was in Wisconsin rather than California.

By the early 1900s, we had the means and the money to fight wildfires. We did. Forest managers already knew this was a bad idea.

By the 1950s, wildfire was again being used to remove excess fuel by thinning trees and removing underbrush. This comes as a shock to urban techies today, but ranchers, timber owners and private citizens know how to use their land responsibly. To create the explosive landscape we see today, all you have to do is add California politics.

California is both diverse and isolated. The people of Malibu don’t know the people of Gualala. Both are on the forested California coast, though at opposite ends of the state. Socialist politicians in California were powered by “environmentalists” from the big city and by their political movement called “environmentalism”. The green movement provided both votes and cash to the Socialists who opposed human activity in the forests. Those political actions developed a series of cascading consequences. Governments own too much of California.

When you restrict the roads on forest lands you get clearcut harvest practices. Clearcut may look ugly, but it is beautiful compared to a wildfire. Environmentalists then used the manufactured spotted owl fiasco and stopped logging in much of the pacific northwest. Even private lands were impacted by “wildlife conservation areas”. Now the forest would grow unthinned.

In theory  you could log or use a controlled burn to manage the land. Not so in practice. On the same piece of ground, you could be fined because you let brush become a fire hazard, while at the same time you were cited for operating equipment over a sensitive wetland or waterway. Forest management became unprofitable since lawyers cost so much more than loggers or truck drivers.

 

It was cheaper to import lumber from Canada than to pay another lawyer in California.

That sounds crazy to us, but it sounds like heaven to the greens in San Francisco. No urban politician wanted to oppose the environmentalists and be called a tool of the logging industry. That dynamic is how an environmental group with support in San Francisco can dictate forest management practices 300 miles away in Etna, California. When I lived in southern California, environmentalists even opposed salvaging the dead and fire-scarred trees that could be used for lumber after a fire. The revenue from the damaged timber was going to be used for firebreaks and reforestation on some sensitive and unstable slopes.

With one breath, the environmentalists told us that nature was too complex to allow timber harvesting. With the next breath, they proposed simplistic solutions to govern our forests.

The truth is that forests are too complex for government to manage.

This is a disaster waiting to happen. Mill Valley, California can’t survive a fire. There are decades of accumulated fuel with narrow roads. The eventual fire will leave nothing behind but concrete foundations and human skeletons.

The forests and brush will burn one way or another. Illegal aliens have set several fires, and unconfirmed reports cite drug operations in our national forests as the source of others.

Nature will start a fire on its own. In the California hills and foothills, there are tens of thousands of lightning strikes per month.

California voters are burying their head in the sand. They spend money each year to fight fires, but can’t overcome the political hurdles to thin the timber and so prevent the next fire. Those decisions are driven by special interest groups and by politicians’ self-interest. They spent billions of dollars on a unionized project for high speed rail to nowhere. Now that money isn’t available to buy or rent firefighting equipment.

Unions vote and trees don’t.

The new state insect of California- the fire-tailed dragonfly.

Today, Californians have the blazing inferno built by their own political decisions. Politicians blame “global warming” or any excuse but themselves. Environmental groups use the wildfires as an opportunity to raise funds.. and the cycle continues. The only way to break the cycle is to read past the headlines.

We’re left with a landscape that is profoundly unusable..except by the drug cartels who don’t bother with environmental regulations in the first place. Perhaps that is what the environmentalists wanted all along.

 

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