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For the week of September 6 through 12, 2000

When the smoke clears

When smoke from the horrific Western fires clears, the inevitable won’t be far behind—Washington, D.C. politicians scrambling to begin fixing blame for blazes that swept through millions of acres of rich forests.

The pity is that this orgy of self-indulgence probably will generate more heat than light, and result in pointing fingers in search of culprits.

Dealing with the vagaries of weather, forest growth patterns and fire—not to mention the conflicting pressures of competing commercial and political interests—is an inexact science and almost beyond human patience.

Common sense suggests that the management of America’s forests and remote park lands is best left to men and women trained in sciences that attempt to understand nature and all its complexities.

Politicians who’d like to get their hands on forest management predictably are more concerned with traditional political interests and less about the forests.

And politicians who insist on playing the blame game will find it’ll backfire.

The record shows that Western congressmen, including those from Idaho, have been hostile to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, doing their best to create legislative and budgetary obstacles to their programs.

Some critics of political interference also might well suggest that meddling by members of Congress hobbled the ability to prevent and fight this summer’s storm of fires.

As certain as the blame fixing is bound to begin soon, so, too, will the presidential campaign be dragged into the fray where candidates will take sides.

One wonders what Mother Nature would say if she could choose sides and testify.


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Copyright 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.