Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wilderness Act factors into Wyoming pine beetle fight

The federal Wilderness Act, established in 1964, includes the language "untrammeled." It means wilderness is meant to remain as free as possible of human influence, said Linda Merigliano with the Forest Service. The act calls for allowing insect and plant diseases to run their course, to even avoid fire suppression unless it is human-caused. The act possesses an outline and series of steps for forest managers to decide what can be allowed in wilderness areas. While verbenone isn't specifically banned under the Wilderness Act, volunteers with the best intentions can't put it on trees in wilderness areas without approval, Merigliano said. Beetles have always been a part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, she said. Their current presence at higher elevations, however, is unprecedented and tied to climate change, but human history is short, she said. The Wilderness Act outlines exceptions for human intervention when correcting man-made problems. "There's no question whitebark is a keystone species," Merigliano said. "Given climate change, there's no question there's a human impact" contributing to the most recent beetle epidemic. How to deal with pine beetles in wilderness areas is the No. 1 debate among forest managers today, she said. While allowing humans in to protect a species is admirable, some worry it could open the door to more human interference. "It so well illustrates the kinds of issues that are subtle, but really important if you are really, truly wanting to protect the intent and spirit behind what the Wilderness Act represents," Merigliano said. "Those are the kind of issues that people don't see or think about."...more

No intervention unless the infestation is human-caused.  Global warming has caused the infestation, global warming is human-caused, so the Forest Service will allow pheromone pouches stapled to the trees.   How convenient.

So, if there is no global warming the treatment would be denied.   It's Wilderness after all.

But what is this bifurcation between human-caused and non-human caused?  The Wilderness Act states:

In addition, such measures may be taken as may be necessary in the control of fire, insects, and diseases, subject to such conditions as the Secretary deems desirable.

The Act makes no distinction between human-caused or other causes.  The only thing "human-caused" is some administrative fiat which establishes the distinction.

But New Mexicans shouldn't worry about Bingaman's bill to create 242,000 acres of Wilderness on our border with Mexico.  I'm sure the Border Patrol can operate effectively and efficiently in these circumstances.  And let's have plenty of restrictions on pheromones and other treatments.  However, I wonder what restrictions they'll put on the cocaine and methamphetamine brought in by the drug traffickers?

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