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.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Climate change is the new scapegoat for failed forest and water policy
Blaming climate change for the recent California fires and the state’s water woes appear to be like the kid blaming his dog for eating his homework.
The reality of climate change isn’t the issue. The earth’s climate has warmed and cooled since the beginning of time. Mankind’s impact on climate change remains debatable and laced with hyperbole that does little to solve problems but much to perpetuate political agendas and poor public policy.
Not to be out done, President Trump jumped into the mix recently with a typical tweet that cast the blame on state officials for taking water that otherwise could be used to extinguish fires. While California and the feds seem to be in the business of banning human access to fresh water, that’s not the issue.
Decades ago a hue and cry went out across the U.S. that the timber industry was killing the Northern Spotted Owl, and to end this, logging had to stop. A major California newspaper did a series of stories on logging that used hyperbole and exaggerations, along with some very good photography, to sell this point and win a Pulitzer Prize.
Logging was stopped. Small towns crumbled, and forests became so overgrown that they began to die. Too many trees then competed for a finite amount of water that fell on the forests during the winter months. A northern California rancher once told me that streams and springs he knew as a child dried up because of this competition for water.
This forced deer and elk migrations to change and further changed natural patterns in the forest that exacerbated the problem. Voter-approved ESA-like protections given to the mountain lion didn’t help as the large predators decimate deer herds that once foraged on the forest. We’ve now introduced wolves that will further cause declines in deer and elk populations and force ranchers grazing their cattle on public lands to relocate them.
Stressed trees became fodder for the bark beetle that also killed vast forest vistas. The view from highways connecting places like Susanville and Red Bluff, or Chester and Quincy bear this out. Forest Service policies of squashing just about every lightning-sparked fire compounded the issue as fire has always been a natural part of the forest ecosystem. It is now virtually impossible to have a small, controllable fire anymore...MORE