Thursday, December 29, 2011

Environmentalists Block Fire Retardant use to Protect Wildlife

Nearly 47 million acres of American forests are now off-limits to slurry drops to fight fires because of a successful lawsuit by environmentalists who say the retardant kills fish and endangered species. The Forest Service decision that was due before Dec. 31 says the new directions for the use of the fire retardant will help them protect water sources as well as plant and wildlife. To decide when or where to drop fire retardant, fire managers now have roughly 12,000 maps identifying avoidance areas on nearly 100 National Forest System units that identify the locations of waterways and areas for hundreds of plant and animal species. Robert Gordon, senior advisor for strategic outreach at the Heritage Foundation, questioned the decision in light of prolonged fights by environmentalists to ban logging in many forests to protect species like the “endangered” Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet. “Now that they are preserved, the new plan is to let them burn?” Gordon asked. The change is opposed by several Western Republican lawmakers, who say it will significantly hamper efforts to contain fires, and elevates the welfare of animals and fish above people and property. Led by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R. –Calif.), the lawmakers called it a “one size fits all approach” that treats remote Montana forests the same as California lands next to highly populated urban areas...more

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