Friday, December 15, 2017

Legion Lake Fire pinnacle of red state failure


Cost to We the People for managing the 2013 Pautre Fire was about $1 million. No livestock were lost and there was minimal damage to fences. 3,519 acres of federal land and 7,160 acres of private property were cleared of invasive grasses.

The US Forest Service knew an advancing cold front would aid the clearing of foot-high grasses and mowed a fire break instead of using a disk to make a fire line so the blaze escaped the planned boundaries. Disturbing soils with implements can allow the growth of weeds introduced by European settlers in the 19th Century. Snow showers ended the fire, there were no injuries and the only structure lost was a derelict rural schoolhouse.
South Dakota Stock Growers Association leaders are questioning what they’re calling an unbalanced response of federal land management agencies to fires that burned public and private land. Representative Lynne DiSanto is bringing forward a bill, on behalf of the Stock Growers Association, that would hold the federal government responsible for their actions. [Today's KCCR]
DiSanto supports the actions of the sleeper cell of armed christianic militants who stormed a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon: a procedure known as "Bleeding the Beast."

Ponderosa pine only reached the Black Hills just over a thousand years ago. When the Custer Expedition came through the Black Hills bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparsely scattered but a century and a half of poor ranching and land management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires and periodic wildfires. After a century of destructive agricultural practices invasive grasses infest most of western South Dakota.
Before humans began suppressing them, wildfires occurred naturally in grasslands and forests. Prescribed burns are sometimes conducted to mimic the positive natural effects of wildfires. Wind Cave officials hoped to stave off a catastrophic wildfire by burning off some of the thick, dry vegetation that wildfires feed on. [Seth Tupper]
Just a hundred and fifty years ago whatever forage was left after the bison migrated south the tribes cleared.

A Republican with an actual background in forest management called the escaped Cold Brook Fire a "roaring success:"
The Wind Cave fire reduced the heavy thatch of dry grass, young junipers and young pine trees that are drowning our forest everywhere, opened up much new grazing ground, increased grazing productivity for buffalo and wildlife, and will turn out to be just what the doctor ordered. [Frank Carroll]
So, after the Cold Brook Fire South Dakota's vulnerable Republican senior senator wants control over the Department of Interior's science-driven prescribed burns.

The Wanblee and Cottonwood Fires were long overdue. The largest post-settlement incident in the Black Hills is the Jasper Fire. It's a hardwood release success story.

But, now the shoe is on the other foot. Governor Denny Daugaard has asked for and received assurances of federal cash to manage the Legion Lake Fire that began on state-owned land and has grown to at least 53,875 acres with 50% containment.

South Dakota is the fourth most dependent in the US but its governor says he hates dependency yet South Dakota is a perpetual welfare state and a permanent disaster area.

Wildfire expert Joe Lowe has called Daugaard incompetent and uninterested in governing.

Commissioners for South Dakota's Game, Fish and Plunder have been briefed about the risks Custer State Park's domestic buffalo face in the wake of the state-caused Legion Lake Fire.
The secretary said the fire burned through a major part of the buffalo range inside the park. He said the park staff doesn’t want to be in competition with the private landowners who have lost hay too.
Read that here.

Buffalo are bison with cattle genes. They have vacated Custer State Park threatening the genetic integrity of the bison at Wind Cave National Park and routinely wander onto highways to injure visitors in the park named for a war criminal.
A livestock owner cannot intentionally allow the animals to wander off his or her property. And if the owner is responsible for the fences that enclose the animals and fail to maintain them, he or she can be held liable for damage caused to another’s property or the cost of medical bills if a person is injured after crashing into a cow on a road. According to the state Department of Agriculture website, the owner of domestic animals such as cattle is not liable for injuries for them being at large unless he or she knows the animals are vicious or should have reasonably anticipated there would be injury from them being at-large on the highway.
Read that story here.

The human-caused Legion Lake Fire represents strategic failures by Black Hills Energy, the State of South Dakota, SDGFP and the South Dakota Republican Party. The absence of prescribed burns and the persistence of invasive cheatgrass in the park are just two more examples of poor planning by GFP. Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored stands of doghair ponderosa pine that grew after the Galena Fire are feeding the current blaze.

Hypocrisy is a Republican value.

Just as the State of South Dakota sued Black Hills Power and Light after the Grizzly Gulch Fire Black Hills Energy should sue the shit out of South Dakota for the Legion Lake Fire for not letting crews cut ladder fuels in a right of way under a power line.

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