A group calling themselves the Western Center for Priorities have come up with the most nonsensical argument yet for why the Western states should not take control of the huge swaths of land now under the control of the federal government.
In a report released today, they say the states can’t afford the cost of fighting wildfires on those lands and point out the cost of fighting wildfires on Forest Service land in New Mexico, Idaho and Montana exceeded those states entire annual budget for law enforcement.
“The costs of fighting wildfires are significant and they are on the rise. Land seizure proponents across the West need to carefully explain how they plan to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to protect communities from wildfire – not to mention all of the other land management costs – without the federal government and without burdening state taxpayers. Until this critical question is answered, state land seizure proposals should not be considered by any serious politician.”
They conveniently ignore the evidence in their own report, which is that wildfires have sharply increased across the West precisely because the federal land managers have failed to properly manage the land and reduce the dry fuels that cause the fires in the first place. “Since 1960, the eight largest fire years by acres burned have all occurred since 2000,” the report says.
Another problem is that WCP only looked at costs for the Forest Service, but in Nevada the Forest Service controls only 8 percent of state land, while the Bureau of Land Management controls 68 percent.
An article in The New American flatly accused: “Wildfires occur naturally and have always been a part of the seasonal cycle in the West, but the size and intensity of the fires have dramatically increased in recent years due, in large measure, to the gross mismanagement of the national forests by the U.S. Forest Service and the incessant lawsuits of radical environmentalists that have thwarted all reasonable attempts at proper forest management.”
The federal government would not have to spend so much on fire suppression if it properly managed the land in the first place, allowing grazing, logging, cutting fire breaks and letting small fires burn and reduce the fuel that causes the huge blazes. States and private land owners would be more likely to protect the forests and prairies and the wildlife there.