From the caucus:
Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury News reported a story about a bird that supposedly needs wildfires to survive. The black-backed woodpecker feeds on insects that inhabit standing dead trees after a wildfire, and radical environmental groups are pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for protection of this bird under the Endangered Species Act. The John Muir Project of the Earth Island Institute, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, claim that this bird warrants protection because fire suppression, salvage logging, and forest thinning to reduce the intensity of wildfires harms the habitat of the black-backed woodpecker. In 2010, the John Muir Project released a report entitled “The Myth of ‘Catastrophic’ Wildfire,” which attempted to convince the public that wildfires are not, in fact, a danger to us. Chad Hanson, a staff ecologist at the John Muir Project, even said that he hopes the Forest Service will be proactive about “educating people that when fire happens, it is not a bad thing.”To wear my conspiracy theorist hat for a moment, what better way to depopulate rural America than to burn it up, right?
Fire is not a bad thing? Nearly 10 million acres across the United States were devastated by wildfires last year, causing almost 2,200 residences to burn to the ground. Twelve brave men and women lost their lives fighting these fires across the nation. And there are groups out there claiming that the “notions of catastrophic wildfire are really just politics and ignorance, and reflect outdated thinking”? The Congressional Western Caucus wholeheartedly disagrees with the belief that wildfires are a positive force that we should allow to torch the West. We should not celebrate destroyed ecosystems, or budget cuts that will force the Forest Service to let more fires burn. Instead, we should be practicing responsible forest management policies that help protect our national forests and families. Catastrophic wildfires are not a myth, they are a horrific reality that should not be taken lightly.