Zinke moves to fight wildfires by clearing trees in break with hands-off forestry policy

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke moved Tuesday to combat the spread of catastrophic wildfires by clearing more trees, a policy switch that represents a dramatic departure from nearly three decades of hands-off management in the federal forests.

He released a department-wide memo calling on supervisors and managers to “think about fire in a new and aggressive way” by clearing the dead and dying trees and vegetation that have overrun the federal forests and heightened wildfire danger.

“This Administration will take a serious turn from the past and will proactively work to prevent forest fires through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction management to save lives, homes, and wildlife habitat,” said Mr. Zinke in a statement.

His policy directive comes with Western states battling one of the more destructive wildfire seasons in recent years. Currently, 62 large wildfires are burning in nine states, led by 20 in Montana, with more than 48,000 blazes searing 8.1 million acres so far this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Mr. Zinke said recent damaging wildfire seasons have been described as “the new normal,” but that it was “unacceptable that we should be satisfied with the status quo.”

“It is well settled that the steady accumulation and thickening of vegetation in areas that have historically burned at frequent intervals exacerbates fuel conditions and often leads to larger and higher-intensity fires,” said Mr. Zinke. “These fires are more damaging, more costly, and threaten the safety and security of both the public and firefighters.”

Mr. Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue have expressed frustration with the thicket of federal regulations and environmental appeals that have snarled efforts to thin the forests, including those under the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Comments (2)

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    Steve

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    Here in Australia, common sense has steamrollered the eco-Marxists, a lot of forests now do controlled burns during wontet to reduce the fuek loads ahead of the summer fire season.

    The previous trick used to work like thus :

    (1) cry “we cant burn the old wood, it will kill off – insery magic fairy dust reason-

    (2) No safety burn offs take place, anyone who clears on private land is prosecuted for defying the eco fairies…..

    (3) A huge forest fire occurs, climate change/ mytjucal ” Gaia” is invoked, all greenies snarl and should ” we told you do”….

    Its a nice little fixup, but common sense gas prevailed.

    I can heae the evo nazis crying into tjeir lattes and finding some new loser thing to protest about…..

    Boo hoo…..eat my shorts.

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  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    We have a large fire here in Siskiyou County and Scott Valley a about 5 to 6 miles Southwest of our town of Etna its been going for a month now and is in the Marble Mountian Wilderness they have been using helicopters with buckets and lasttwo aircraft a specialy modified 747 and DC-10 dropped borate on the fires we had some pretty bad days of smoke and theres a firecamp abouta mile south of our town on S.R 3 and we have the National Guard there as well as units from southern california and as far as im concerned the enviromentalists should help out they have been stoppiing logging so lets see the tree huggers and tree sippers show some responsibility AND THIS MEANS YOU JULIA(BUTTERFLY)HILL

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