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Politicians Yell "Fire" in Arizona

Finger Pointing for Wallow Fire Starts Before the Smoke Clears

Snowflake, AZ - Politicians in Arizona, including State Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake and State Representative Brenda Barton a Republican from Safford, have begun pointing fingers for the Wallow Fire in Arizona. The culprits: Environmentalists and federal forest policy. However, weather and drought conditions are the responsible parties.

“Either these politicians are badly informed or they are intentionally misleading Americans.” Said Bryan Bird an ecologist with WildEarth Guardians in Santa Fe, NM. “Its shameful to play fear politics when people are suffering and fleeing the flames.”

New Mexico and parts of Arizona are experiencing the worst drought conditions in recorded history and combined with windy, spring weather, extreme wildfires are predictable. It is unlikely that thinning or other federal forest policy changes can prevent catastrophic fires in these conditions. The most people can do is get out of the way.

“Under these historic drought conditions and windy weather, catastrophic fire is to expected and all people can do is get out of the way.” Said Bird. “Thinning only changes fire behavior under certain conditions,  we are far outside the range of those circumstances, and answering for a century of unsustainable logging in the West.”

A century of unsustainable logging and overgrazing combined with historic drought has left the native forests of the Southwest vulnerable to catastrophic fire. The dry pine forests evolved with fires of every severity from low to very high: fire to these forests is what rain is to a rainforest. The proper response, once the smoke clears, is to reconsider zoning laws and insurance policies for structures in fire-prone areas.

“Logging is not the answer to the fires, but rather demanding changes in construction zoning and insurance policies in fire-prone areas of the West,” Said Bird. “If counties are going to allow residential development where fires are easily predictable, perhaps they should burden the exorbitant costs of fire fighting rather than the federal government. What ever happened to personal responsibility?”

Representative Barton claims spotted owls will have no where to nest, but in fact, fire is what creates the habitat that spotted owls are most successful in. The patchy forest landscape with meadows after fires is where the prey of the owl is most abundant.


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