New laws to blame for fires, smoke

Our fires and the unhealthy smoke we are now breathing is a result, in large part, of newer forest management policies. The comments of Gov. Steve Bullock blaming drought for our forest problems of today is inaccurate at best. In reality, these conditions are the result of newer counter-productive environmental laws.

Most people don’t know the U.S. Forest Service is now restricted when trying to thin out dying, diseased or rotten timber. Newer limited-access rules prevent new roads and equipment the needed access to quickly get fires under control. Dead trees and overgrowth are no longer thinned and removed resulting in dangerous fuel for these fires. Even more egregious is the fact that the Forest Service is now destroying old logging roads that were so helpful, and even necessary, for fire prevention and control.

Without roads, they now have to try to put out or control fires with men and/or aircraft, which is impossible. Without heavy equipment, specifically caterpillars, how can anyone have a realistic hope of controlling forest fires?

We need options and they are being taken away with devastating results. It’s time to address these problems starting with the elimination or revamp of our environmental laws especially the Endangered Species Act.

-- Mark Agather, Kalispell

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