Want to stop wildfires? Try logging, says Utah official.
Republican State Rep. Mike Noel said this week that “tree huggers” were to blame for a major blaze that broke out in southern Utah on June 17 and continues to burn 11 days later.
His reasoning? The fire wouldn’t have spread if federal forest lands had been cleared of dead, bug-infested trees, and environmentalists and the federal government were getting in the way of that deed.
“When we turn the Forest Service over to the bird and bunny lovers and the tree huggers and the rock lickers, we’ve turned our history over,” Noel said.
Experts say that getting rid of the dead trees wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Noel’s argument ignores flame-inducing factors like climate change, drought, and unpredictable winds, Steve Bloch, legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, told AP.
The wildfire has forced the evacuation of 1,500 residents, burned down 13 homes, and raged through nearly 50,000 acres of land near Brian Head, the town where the fire began.
“If we’re looking for someone to blame, there isn’t anyone,” U.S. Forest Service researcher Mark Finney told AP. “Forests burn.”