Paying for Governor Moonbeam’s Mistakes

There is a reason that Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) has been referred to as “Gov. Moonbeam.” And he moved decisively last week to reinforce his claim to that title.

California is experiencing its worst wildfire season in decades, maybe even its worst in recorded history. Two massive fires, one near Malibu in Southern California and another near Paradise in Northern California have resulted in death and destruction in record and still growing numbers across the state. Nearly 1.7 Million acres have been destroyed. The death toll stands at 75 and growing with an estimated 1,000 people still missing. Over 10,000 homes have been burned with thousands of other structures. Nearly the entire town of Paradise, California, has been destroyed. The cost of the fires including losses and containment costs, already exceed $3 Billion.

In a nutshell it is cataclysmic. And it has been building for decades. A combination of severe drought and non-existent forest management practices has created a tinderbox ready to explode at any moment and for almost any cause. Those virtually non-existent forest management practices are controlled by the environmental collective and a Congress and state legislatures that have engaged in “target” environmental legislation. In this instance the target environmental legislation can best be described as inspirational – you know, “manage the forests to do good and avoid evil” and thereafter leave implementation to bureaucrats drawn mostly from the environmental collective who are consistently out of touch with reality.

The result has been that the forests, particularly of the coastal West (California, Oregon, and Washington) are now choked with dead and dying trees, infested trees and low-lying vegetation that is inordinately susceptible to periods of drought. So bad is the clutter, that it is virtually impossible to walk in a straight line for ten yards in most state and federal forest lands. As the forests dry out each summer the build up of fuel is rapid. The dense undergrowth dries out allowing a quick accelerant for any lightening, unattended campfire, downed power line, tossed cigarette or malicious arsonist. The accelerant then feeds the spread of fire to the dead and dying trees including downed timber on the forest floors which increases the intensity and height of the fires allowing them to spread to the branches of the living trees and rapidly spread upward on the needles and leaves and thereafter allows for sparks, embers and wind to spread the fire rapidly. Interrupt any one of these steps and you will rapidly diminish the size, intensity and destruction of these fires. Any person of average intelligence recognizes these facts. Some choose to ignore them preferring the “natural cleansing” of wildfires which leads to the series of massive wildfires experienced by the coastal West states, including the B&B complex in Central Oregon and the Biscuit fire in Southern Oregon. Some chose to resist the idea of logging, preferring destruction over orderly management. And some are simply hell bent on denying access to anything other than wild creatures.

Members of the liberal/progressive movement adhere to any or all of those mantras including those who are hired or appointed by liberal/progressive governors like Mr. Brown, or the succession of Democrat governors in Washington and Oregon – all three prime forest producing states. In each such instance, these liberal/progressives routinely genuflect at the altar of the environmental collective who resist any attempt to groom the forests. And thus we see these massive and destructive wildfires annually. And, quite frankly, I’m getting damn sick and tired of paying for their mistakes. And these attitudes are not limited to governors. Those charged with the management of the national forests may even be worse. The decision makers occupy offices in Washington, DC, and, quite frankly wouldn’t know a wildfire from a campfire. And few, if any, have actually observed a massive forest choked with dead and dying trees and underbrush.

And that brings us back to Mr. Brown. Before these fires were even controlled, let alone extinguished, Mr. Brown was asked about whether California should have engaged in grooming the forests and Mr. Brown indicated that that was not the problem – the problem, of course, was climate change. And that is where the “Moonbeam” shown through.

First of all, Mr. Brown carefully used the term “climate change” since the theory of global warming has been rebuffed by facts and the passage of time where the predictions of average annual temperatures, melting polar caps, the diminution of glaciers, the rise of sea levels and the flooding of islands and coastal lands have all failed to materialize in the timeline and levels established in the liberal/progressive models of doom and destruction. Yes the climate changes – we are all safe in saying that – it is the nature of the climate. Polar caps melt and polar caps expand, glaciers melt and glaciers grow. The average annual temperatures increase and decrease – the recorded history of annual temperature changes is but a millisecond in the passage of time and, therefore, little can be known about its causes and/or its effects. Reducing the cause and effect of wildfires to a single element is the sign of a deteriorating mind.

Next, the dismissal of the effects of grooming the forests denies reality. A short drive between Salem and Sisters over Santiam Pass in Central Oregon is a good example. Prior to the B&B Complex fire in 2003, as you crossed the Santiam Pass, the forests were filled with dead, diseased and dying trees so thick that you could not see the landscape. But as you descended the east side of the pass and drove towards Sisters, the forests opened up – particularly on the north side of the highway near Black Butte. The forests were groomed, dead and diseased trees had been removed, the saplings had been removed to improve the spacing of mature trees and the mature trees had grown large with fire resistant bark.

In 2003, the B&B Complex fire engulfed over 90,000 acres and destroyed timber and structures on both sides of the pass. In the aftermath of the fire, state and federal governments refused to allow the harvesting of burned trees, the cleaning of the trees killed by the fire or the replanting of trees in the areas effected by the fire. In contrast, those areas near Black Butte, which had been routinely groomed, sustained little damage beyond some blackened bark. The forest is open, healthy and quite dramatic. Grooming of the forest provides only temporary damage to the forest’s ecosystems and what little damage that is done is rapidly offset with quick reforestation.

And finally, if you believe in global warming as Mr. Brown and the governors of Washington and Oregon do, you must also accept that its effects hasten the build up of fuel in the forests. You must also accept that nothing that California, Washington or Oregon can do will mitigate global warming based on their own scientists’ conclusion. That being the case, if you cannot alter the cause, shouldn’t you focus on mitigating the effects – including grooming the forests. Thus far these liberal/progressives have only shaken their tine fists at the sky and continued, unbending, to follow a path of doing nothing and allowing these fires to wreck destruction and death.

And that is why I am damn sick and tired of paying for their mistakes. The financial costs of these wildfires are staggering and taxpayers are expected to pony up without question. If the people of California, or Washington, or Oregon are so stupid as to keep returning these morons to office year after year then they and they alone should bear the costs. Public forests lands are for everyone but only a politically correct few are authorized to make decisions as to how they are used – let them pay for their mistakes.

Insanity is often described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The governors of the coastal West states really don’t want to be known as insane. (It appears that Mr. Brown may have had a recent epiphany and has acknowledged that he might have to “walk back” his negative comments on the efficacy of grooming and cleaning the forests. Apparently he may be comfortable with being stupid but not insane.)