Radiogurl a la Carte

2003-10-30
B-b-burning up with love?

Let me start off by saying, as a newsperson, I put everything I have into being fair and impartial when I report. Let me also say that no one can truly be 100% impartial, no matter how well they try to disguise their prejudices and attitudes. This entry makes no pretense of impartiality. It is my opinion, stated in bald emotion and naked honesty.

As I witness the devastation from the wildfires in California, I have to shake my head. The worst part is that it didn't have to happen. It's not like no one knew that the forests were tinderboxes. Much of the western United States is reeling from a five-year drought that has taxed our ecosystem and our fiscal resources to the limits. Here in Arizona, we had a blaze last summer that consumed nearly 500,000 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest and burned more than 400 homes and businesses.

We were fortunate; no one was killed in the Rodeo-Chedisky fire, though about 30,000 people were evacuated from North-Central Arizona, not knowing if they would go back to the charred ruins of what had once been a beautiful town.

While nature has maintained the forests for millennia, that isn't a valid argument against man's responsibility to manage the wildlands we inhabit, nor against man LIVING on those lands. The key to this is 'responsibility'. This is our world. We are as valid a part of it as the endangered avians, reptiles, mammals, plants, and fish. Mankind must coexist with the rest of the world, or we have to cease to exist - those are our only options, I'm afraid.

Yet in the aftermath of the Rodeo-Chedisky fire, extremist environmental lawsuits blocked cleanup efforts. While the bark beetle has killed acres and acres of trees, nobody is permitted to clear out the diseased areas. The wood can't be harvested and the infestation can't be stopped. Sorry, it's not Mother Nature's way. Too bad that the acres of dead trees abut your home, you shouldn't be there anyway. You should be living in an urban sprawl back East, like all civilized people who reap the benefits from your area without thought of where the resources originate.

Or there's the other end of the spectrum. In California, in the area that's now going Up in Smoke - without the Cheech and Chong laughs - homeowners are being forced to clear diseased trees from their property - but can't touch anything in the surrounding area. They have to foot the bill of up to $5000 per tree, and it does nothing to stop the spread of the beetle infestation across the much-misnamed 'Public Lands'.

Here in rural Arizona, local lawmakers have been waging war against the people who claim to love the land. At stake are hundreds of thousands of acres of old forest, homes, cabins, lives... But the extremist stance is that we shouldn't be here. Hell-lo? I'll be happy to evict pretty much everyone in the US, since virtually the entire nation was wildland only a couple of centuries ago. Four centuries ago, it was all there was.

Oops, forgot, there were Native Americans here, too. Should we discount their homes, as well, however? After all, a few millennia earlier there weren't ANY people here.

This isn't to say that I'm in favor of unrestricted timbering and/or development. I believe in order to truly conquer Earth, we must forge a symbiosis with it. As it stands, unbridled environmentalism is as misguided as unrestrained development. Neither is good for anyone.

It took us centuries to mess up this part of the world to this degree, though the worst damage has occurred over the past 100 years or so. Let's not allow the pendulum to swing wildly. There's already a bill in the works to have you arrested for stepping onto Public Lands - the lands everyone's taxes pay for, and pay to manage. Local ranchers are already required to pay grazing fees for land they were forced to vacate, on cattle they were forced to sell.

Hmmmm... Paying for goods and services you don't receive... To quote one of our County Supervisors, Ron Christensen: "In the private sector, that's called FRAUD. In the Federal sector, it's called MANAGEMENT."

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )