Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Group pushes for fire-fighting plane for Ruidoso area
A local group hoping to change USDA Forest Service policy following the devastating Little Bear Fire is told the Ruidoso area should make sure a water or slurry ferrying aircraft is stationed at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport during fire seasons. Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition member Roger Allen said either a single-engine air tanker (SEAT) should be purchased or the service contracted. "In season's past, we have had stationed out at the airport as recently as last year's Swallow Fire, a SEAT plane," Allen said. "Fifteen minutes and they were over the site." Allen said the distance from the start of the Little Bear Fire to Sierra Blanca Regional Airport is about 25 miles. "At the loaded cruise speed, a SEAT could get there in about 12.5 minutes. From cold start to taxiing, about five minutes. A return is faster empty. Time on the ground is about five minutes, a 25-minute round-trip. You can see where I'm going with this. Three and a half hours later they could have had one inch of water on a quarter of an acre." Allen said he believed a SEAT would have been useful during the first days of the fire that four days after it was ignited by a lightning strike roared east, carried by strong winds. Nearly 300 structures, including 255 homes, were destroyed by the Little Bear Fire. "I remember when they were doing that seeding project (post fire vegetation restoration), the helicopters were dropping the straw," Little Bear Forest Reform Coalition member James Paxton said. "And four of them were making round-trips every five minutes. That still leaves the unanswered question, in those first four days, why we couldn't have had a couple of those planes? Too dense, too high, too whatever. Those planes can be up and back and forth literally within minutes of where that fire was. We don't have an answer why they didn't do that." "If the fire was determined on Monday (June 4), by Tuesday morning they could have been putting slurry on there if they had so desired," Paxton told the coalition. "In terms of saying logistically there's just no way they could have done it, they could have. The question is why didn't they?"...more