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On Sept. 9, 1942, as an act of war, the Japanese dropped two incendiary bombs on the forest near Brookings, Oregon. Their goal was to create massive forest fires that would panic the people, destroy our natural resources and cause America to waste money and manpower to fight the fires. They dropped two more bombs weeks later but due to wet forest conditions none of the bombs caused a major fire.

The Japanese also sent thousands of incendiary bombs attached to balloons from Japan to follow the jet stream in another attempt to burn the forests of the western United States and Canada. Again, no major fires were started due to wet forest conditions; however, several people were killed in Oregon when they found one of these balloons.

Now people paid to manage our forests are telling us that burning our natural resources is good and natural, even in the rainforests of the coast.

It has been proven that the dense wood smoke that we have endured in the past is hazardous to our health. It is now obvious that the U.S. Forest Service is letting many of the fires burn and in fact lighting thousands of acres in their burnout operations. The proof that they have no intention of actually fighting some of these fires is that they automatically place containment dates months after the fire start.

Last summer fires that started in mid-July were given estimated containment dates of Oct. 21. The Forest Service will spin the facts and say that they extinguish 98 percent of fires when they are small. Maybe that is true nationwide but what they do not say is that they are letting many fires in the west burn knowing that most fires will spread sometime during the summer.

I have a letter from the Forest Service Washington office that states; in 2009 the federal wildland fire management “policy” was revised to allow more flexibility in fire management. This means they are allowed to let some fires burn.

When and how did we give the authority to civil servants to dictate the quality of the air we breathe? A government that was established to protect the people should protect our property and the air we must breathe.

I would like the new enlightened experts or the regional forester to explain how they are protecting the people and contributing to the strength of our nation by burning our forests. I would also like one example of one nation or civilization that has wasted their natural resources and treasure and remained strong.

Since the Forest Service thinks it is using fire as a management tool, I suggest that they be required to prepare an environmental impact statement for every drainage they plan to let burn. This would allow the people who must endure the current and future detrimental effects of the devastating fires a chance to comment on their health and other concerns.

What has happened to our country? Where is common sense? What was once considered an act of war is now permitted by federal management agencies.

-- Chuck Hinkle of Philipsburg worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 38 years, including three summers starting in 1967, and fought fires in Washington, California, New Mexico, Alaska and Montana. In addition to a job in timber, he was a smoke chaser on the Pinter Ranger District during the '80s and '90s.

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