A local politician blames eco-activism for massive blaze. Environmentalists blame “climate change”.
Eleven days after Utah’s massive Brian Head wildfire erupted, evacuated residents are poised to be given the all-clear signal to return home this Friday.
Brian Head Town Manager Bret Howser confirmed Wednesday evening that the evacuation order will be lifted later this week.
Approximately 750 people were evacuated from the mountain community shortly after the man-made blaze broke out on June 17. The Brian Head fire is now the largest active wildfire in the nation at 54,202 acres and only 10 percent containment.
But things aren’t looking so bad for Brian Head. Residents and visitors will have to enter through SR-14, but the businesses and hotels should be ready for customers and guests Friday morning. SR-143 will remain closed for the time being as crews perform additional clean-up.
South Central Communications is still working to restore fiber and phone lines to the town. It’s expected to be up and running later in the day Friday. Rocky Mountain Power has already brought electricity back to the entire town.
The hard-working firefighters and support personnel have worked heroically, and it appears that the local July 4th celebrations will go on as planned (just with no fireworks).
How did this wildfire get started? The initial fire began when a resident was burning shrubs around his cabin, and the flames got quickly out of control due to dry conditions, high temperatures, and wind.
Meanwhile, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said he received an investigative file from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands on Wednesday afternoon, and that his office will begin the process of screening potential criminal charges in connection with the blaze. Garrett added that it could take weeks to conclude the process.
As of Wednesday morning, the fire had burned more than 54,000 acres across two counties, and had destroyed 21 buildings, 13 of them residences.
At dawn Wednesday, an army of more than 1,600 firefighters, aided by a fleet of water- and retardant-bearing helicopters and air tankers, began shifting attention to the still out-of-control blaze’s northern front.
Firefighters will be battling this blaze for some time to come. Community leaders are angry, and many say that eco-activist environmental policies are really what ignited this inferno.
Mike Noel, a Utah State Representative, took aim at the the eco-activists who have decried logging and would “rather see the whole forest burn down than a single stump.”.
“When we turned the Forest Service over to the bird and bunny lovers and the tree-huggers and the rock-lickers, we turn our history over,” Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said during a news conference Monday in Brian Head.
“And the fire is going to do more damage because we’re going to lose our watersheds. We’re going to lose our soils. We’re going to lose our wildlife. We’re going to lose our scenery – the very things you people (environmentalists) wanted to protect. It’s just plain stupidity.”
The root vaude of the blaze, Noel asserted, is a buildup of fuels from a failure to log, especially expanses hit by bark beetles.
“There are 70 million board feet of timber being grown every year and you allow a harvest of 6 million board feet. That’s 66 million [sic] board feet of fire. When you allow trees to die from bark beetle …. you are going to get a catastrophic fire,” he fumed. “We haven’t seen this in 28 years, because we haven’t done stupid stuff like this in 28 years.”
Noel compared two photographs — taken by Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins — that the lawmaker said proves the benefits of logging. One picture showed a logged area, depicted by tree stumps among unburned trees, while the other depicted an unlogged area that burned.
Of course, environmentalists disagree with the take:
Steve Bloch, legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Noel’s assertion is an over-simplification of wildfires that are the result of fire suppression, climate change, drought and unpredictable winds.
…Bloch said his group hasn’t challenged logging in the area of the Utah fire in two decades. But Noel says the lawsuit in the early 1990s delayed a Forest Service plan to get rid of an emerging cluster of bark beetles before it spread.
Of course, no eco-activist rant would be complete without Trump-hate:
Chad Hanson, co-founder the John Muir Project, co-authored a 2009 study that was one of the first to dispute the theory that bug-infested trees burn faster.
“That’s just logging industry propaganda,” Hanson said. “This is a direct outgrowth of the rhetoric of fear and hate coming out of the Trump administration. It has emboldened some very anti-environmental voices.”
Actually, what has emboldened American citizens is the continuous, progressive politicization of the sciences and the demonization of industry so that there is no trust in the “theories” of government experts. Americans will likely demand more sensible, people-first land management policies in the future.
Our prayers go out to the people of Brian Head, that the fire is contained soon.DONATE
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