Fish Or Man

Friday, September 08, 2006

Still Shooting From the Hip

I've moved out of Washington State, (sort of). Still hanging around to finish up some loose ends.

Anyway, those of us still around North Eastern Washington State have been smelling the Forest Service burn down our local forests for almost two months now. While they don't ALWAYS strike the match, they are doing everything in their power to follow the "let it burn" approach to (not) fighting wildfires. Now that our two largest local fires have reached the Pasayten "Wilderness" firefighters are being demobilized, (sent home).

Here is the latest local article on the matter: New fire discovered in Pasayten Wilderness

And here is the letter-to-the-editor I sent into the paper yesterday:

"New" Fire, Old Fire

The article, "New fire discovered in Pasayten Wilderness", states the Forest Service, (FS), "discovered" the Van Peak fire late on the 6th. My question is why did it take them so long to find this fire? I first saw this fire very early on the morning of the 5th by simply viewing the FS's own satelite imagery available online. MODIS Active Fire Detection

Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on these satelites so the "experts" could find these fires in their earliest of stages. Fire activity north of Van Peak was first shown by satelite at 3 am (MDT) on the 5th. That makes it almost two days later when the FS claims to have discovered the fire, late on the 6th???

All of this advanced technology provided at taxpayer expense and they can't bother to look at an image on a computer screen every 3 or 4 hours? (ed: Likely not enough skin tones in those images.)

Or was this fire known about but given over a 40 hour head start in order to become too large to put out thereby allowing the entire Pasayten to burn this summer? (Ed: This also done likely to help bolster the claim there is an 80 year burning cycle of these forest, currently being spouted by Washington's Governor.)

I was also sadden but not surprised to hear the Horseshoe Basin cabin was allowed to be destroyed. Years ago, when the area was in question as to it's "wilderness" status, many of the cabins were purposely burned down by the FS in an attempt at hiding the years of human activity inside the borders of the Pasayten. Logging, mining, roadbuilding, and ranching were all present. Heck, there is even an airplane landing strip in the middle of the Pasayten. A runway makes it almost laughable when calling the Pasayten a wilderness, but the FS has yet to find a way to burn down a runway.

Historical Revisionist attempting to hide man's influences of the area, the destruction of millions of board feet of timber destroying livelyhoods, and two months worth of poor air quality destorying lives; Is this what it takes to have a designated wilderness in our backyards?

It's high time the FS stopped blowing around all this smoke.

I would much rather we return the other Washington to wilderness status.


You can check out the satelite images for yourself, starting at their archive page here. Find Sept. 5th and click on the 3 am link to the map image, and you will see the first mapping of this "new" old fire.

I realize for non-locals of the area it may be difficult to find where I am talking about on the maps. At the top of Washington State there are two large fires, the Tatoosh complex, (reaching into Canada), and the Tripod complex. Red dots indictate recent burning, (past 12 hours), orange dots past 24 hours, and the yellow areas is previously burned area.

So, the first red dots of this "new" fire are just to the right and below the words "TATOOSH COMPLEX". They may not be noticed by someone not looking for them, but I noticed and I am certainly not one of the "experts" being paid to watch this forest burn.

Finally, if you look at the map from around the time the FS says they "discovered" this fire, 7 pm on the 6th, the fire looks to have tripled in size, making a quick put out impossible.

For the most up-to-date maps of these fires, go here to watch it burn for yourself. But don't expect a paycheck for sitting on your ass and watching this forest burn unless you work for the Forest Service.