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By Investigative Reporter John Taft

September 12, 2002

GRANTS PASS, OR. -- Environmental laws passed by congress, and supported by bleary-eyed environmental groups have culminated in the most disastrous fires in recorded history in Josephine County, Oregon. As of July 30th public officials have put the 17,000 residents of the Illinois valley on a 30-minute notice to hit the road if the Florence fire breaches bulldozed front lines and roars into the Illinois Valley, 20 miles southwest of Grants Pass. Greg Gillpin of the Oregon State Forestry has indicated they canít guarantee the safety of Illinois Valley homes from this gargantuan lightning caused forest fire. As a plague of locusts, this fire is consuming everything in its path, with no respect for wild life, old growth timber, or environmentalistsí no thinning policies. We are only 40 percent into the summer of 2002 with 90 degree plus daily temperatures and low humidity day after day. The two fires, Florence, and Sour Biscuit, in the Illinois Valley are expected to converge into one; they have blackened 185,000 acres of land and are still growing. This correlates to approximately 300 square miles of charred and blackened trees, where a tranquil green forest stood just a few days ago.

Cause and Effect

Fires like the one in Josephine County have been occurring across the US in prodigious numbers this fire season. The people who have lost their homes ask why. The public is beginning to have a mind shift and realize that the ecofrauds have been lying to them. The untouched pristine green forest with Bambi and the blue bird of happiness singing are a weak-minded illusion belonging only in a Walt Disney film. Without proper forest management, which means thinning, roads, and harvesting, the result is wildfires from hell with nothing left for the present or future generations to enjoy or harvest. The environmentalists and their clubs have fooled the public for years, and a wimpy congress has prostrated itself and enacted legislation that has created the conditions that have allowed the horrible fires that have burned up wildlife, green forests, homes, and lives.

Senator Daschle Gets Smart

It appears the Senateís top Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota was able to sneak some modifications into a defense spending bill that will allow thinning in the Black Hillsí forests. Interestingly, Daschle was able to neuter the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and allow South Dakota to thumb their nose at the Environmental Protection Act while protecting their forests.

Daschle is a liberal democrat, but he understands what the NEPA is doing to proper forest management and why we are having the wild fires. Every state needs to follow the Daschle example in this respect. It appears NEPA is just another ill-conceived congressional law without foresight, and Daschel had the foresight to step on it.

Raging wild fires are destroying national resources in the form of timber, firewood, wild life, and ecosystems. National monuments are national boondoggles. The environmentalists have had their way for far too long. The timber industry has been decimated compared to what it once was. Illogical feel good type legislation pushed by the environmentalists with the backing of poorly informed citizens has created roadless areas, monuments, and locked up the national forest to managed thinning practices. Isnít it time to tell the truth and stop this wildfire insanity?

Roadless Areas Lead To Wildfires

The public has been misguided and misinformed by a number of environmental organizations whose polices have helped lead to the devastating fires we are experiencing in Josephine County, Oregon, and the rest of the nation. Area residents are beginning to understand the dangerous ecological position the environmentalists have placed them in. Here is a quote from a press release by the Oregon Natural Resources Council, dated July 13, 2000, "In the past few months, over 25,000 Oregonians have already asked the administration to stop development and extraction in all roadless areas over 1000 acres. Seventy-seven elected representatives of cities, counties, and state congressional districts from Ashland to Portland have called for a stronger, more inclusive roadless area protection policy. Conservation groups today added hundreds of petitions to the 15,000 that have already been delivered to Governor Kitzhaber that call on him to demonstrate strong leadership to make the roadless area policy more inclusive." The results are in; and even Dr. Watson could figure this one out. The evidence shows the environmentalists and their 25,000 friends are wrong. If you lost your home or a forest fire threatened it, you should have a serious talk with the 77 elected representatives who signed the roadless petition. Itís time to take the high road and save the forests from the environmentalists by using common sense forest management.

Environmentís Credibility Seared

The environmental organizations have names like, the Oregon Natural Resources Council, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, and OSPRIG. Itís simple: When fire strikes, a forest road is a fast way to get a fire crew to the burn site. Last summer I watched a helicopter dump buckets of water on a lightning ignited snag. The snag was located on a mountain side and a firefighter had to hike into the burn, and using a chain saw drop the tree to completely extinguish the fire. It is not always possible to put the fire out from the air. Roads are a necessary tool to properly manage a forest. The roadless area policy is a farce and failed policy created in heads filled with pink cotton candy. After the inferno of a wildfire, it will be years before the forest begins life anew. There is no ecosystem, watershed, or sustained yield from a burned out forest. There are only charred trees, sterilized soil, erosion, and the silence of death. This is the legacy of the environmentalists in and out of government to the people of Josephine County, Oregon.

Note: As of August 8, 2002 the acreage burned is listed at 196,000 acres. The number of fire personnel is reported to be 4,800. Consider the cost, destruction of personal property, and natural assets and you can see what radical environmentalism has help do to Southern Oregon. As of 9-10-02, the fire is contained. It consumed approximately 500,000 acres, third largest fire in Oregon's history.

© 2002 John Taft - All Rights Reserved

John Taft former president of Josephine County Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the Oregon Observer. He has had many years of broadcasting, news writing and reporting experience. He also has written a popular conservative newsletter for a taxpayers organization to inform the public on taxing issues. John can be reached at