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Group requests agency to be even more fiscally prudent and ecologically sensitive during 2013 fire season



July 10, 2013

Contacts: Gary Macfarlane, Friends of the Clearwater (208) 882-9755

Brett Haverstick, Friends of the Clearwater (208) 882-9755

Group requests agency to be even more fiscally prudent

and ecologically sensitive during 2013 fire season

Moscow—Friends of the Clearwater sent a letter today to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests pointing out that it may be fiscally prudent, and ecologically advantageous, to allow more lightning- caused fires to burn this summer on the national forests. The group contends that climate, and not fuel, is the driving force behind fire behavior and that based on current atmospheric trends, it’s possible a greater percentage of years in the future will be conducive to large higher severity fires, compared to the past.

“The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests have historically been the leading forest system unit(s) in permitting lightning caused fires to burn in designated Wilderness and other backcountry areas ”, said Brett Haverstick, Education & Outreach Director for Friends of the Clearwater. “We would like to see them do more of it in 2013, opposed to the full-court suppression efforts of 2012.”

The group put together a 2012 wildland fire report based on information they received from the Forest Service. It indicated that the percentage of fires that burned in high severity was quite low, and yet the agency still spent approximately $50-million dollars on suppression efforts.

“For the sake of fiscal sanity, and ecological benefits, we’d like to see the Forest Service recognize the important role that fire plays in a wildland system”, said Ecosystem Defense Director Gary Macfarlane. “We hope the agency does not spend money suppressing fires, only to relight them during their prescribed burn season.”

The McGuire Fire was one of the larger fires that burned on the national forests in 2012. Despite all the time, money and energy the agency spent trying to suppress the blaze, it still took a weather event for the fire to go out.

“At the end of the day, it would be beneficial to spend less money and reap the ecological benefits of wildland fires across the national forest. The focus should be on protecting structures and private property, not dropping slurry on every darn tree,” said Brett Haverstick.