Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wanblee fire long overdue


Election year politics from Senator John Thune (earth hater-SD) forced federal land managers to curtail prescribed fires on national forests and grasslands in South Dakota.

Now, a wildland fire that has grown to at least 5000 acres near Wanblee is reminding land managers, both public and private, that prescribed burns are essential for responsible stewardship.
Ancestral Puebloans may have used fire for much more than long-range communication. Evidence suggests it was used as a tool for manipulating landscapes. Fire could also be used to manufacture an expanded “edge effect,” the area where two ecosystems meet, such as the joining of plains and a forest, where there is increased biodiversity. It could also be used to essentially groom an area, removing underbrush and easing travel and hunting within it. [Ancestral Puebloans used fire to communicate across vast distances]
Pre-emptive burns and managed lightning-struck fires are essential to restoring balance in western ecosystems just like letting bison crop invasive grasses is to the Greater Missouri Basin.

South Dakota Governor Denny Daugaard is a climate and Anthropocene denier yet state climatologist Dennis Todey is ringing the climate alarm.

So, the question remains: should rewilding efforts seek to restore sustainable wild lands to Pleistocene Era conditions or let the Anthropocene lay waste desertifying precious resources changing the landscape forever leaving survivors to cleave out habitable zones forsaking native species?

Global warming has been accelerating since humans began setting fires to clear habitat, as a weapon or just for amusement. The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.

Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison would be clearing the grasses driving the 2017 wildfire season.

Moral hazard is the flip side of self-reliance and the livestock industry knows emergency declarations will provide bailouts for those who choose risk instead of burning off dry grasses minimizing losses.

Domestic livestock have contributed to catastrophic wildfire conditions and Republican welfare ranchers are the real ecoterrorists who hate subsidies unless they benefit from them.

No comments: