Newspaper column: How to save the West from devastating wildfires

As we enter another wildfire season — and each one seems to be more devastating than the previous one — the question lingers: Why?

According to The New York Times, The Washington Post and National Geographic it is unquestionably due to climate change.

Pay no heed to the fact that prior to 1980 less than 25,000 acres of wildfires occurred each year in Nevada. In each of the past two years, more than 1 million acres have burned. Coincidentally, since 1980 the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service have made massive cuts in the number of cattle and sheep allowed to graze federal land. The number of sheep has fallen 80 percent and the number of cattle has been cut in half.

This past week’s issue of Executive Intelligence Review magazine asks the question: “What Is Causing Massive Wildfires In the U.S. West: The Environment — Or Environmentalism?”

The article focuses on the largest fire in Nevada history — the July 2018 Martin Fire, which burned nearly half a million acres in Northeast Nevada and devastated the Ninety-Six Ranch, which has been run by the Stock and Stewart families for 155 years. The article includes an extensive interview with rancher Kris Stewart, who has been lobbying the federal land agencies and the president to allow historic levels of grazing to prevent such wildfires.

Stewart told the magazine’s editor the vegetative fuel levels on the rangeland that burned in the Martin Fire had been allowed to reach 1,000 percent of normal by the BLM’s own estimates, and, despite this, she said the ranch was denied permission for additional grazing time.

In the 1960s, she reported, “the modern environmental movement began to inform range management studies and policy, and environmental lawsuits caused a shift in grazing policies. Once considered engaged partners, ranchers were viewed as the enemy …”

This was political, not scientific. Stewart noted that range biologists such as Allan Savory have concluded that livestock grazing disturbs the soil in a healthy manner, “allowing rain and snow water, seeds and fertilizer to be absorbed throughout the soil. They obviously also deposit some of those seeds as well as a completely natural and healthy fertilizer to the soil.”

In the 2015 summer edition of Range magazine, under the headline “Cows can save the world,” Savory stated, “Over millions of years such grasslands — soil life, plants, grazing animals and their predators — developed together in an amazing symbiotic relationship. The grasses needed animals grazing, trampling, dunging and urinating just as much as the animals needed plants.”

Obama and the press: Coincidence or coordination?

On May 9, Obama announced on ABC News his support for gay marriage, though he did not actually do anything about it.

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said.

Two days later, The Washington Post published a long-researched, front-page piece on Mitt Romney’s behavior in high school toward a presumably gay classmate, quoting another student describing Romney “marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut (John) Lauber’s hair” and how the bleached-blond, long-haired, tearful Lauber was pinned to the ground while “Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.”

Coincidence or coordination?

Jeffrey Isidoro, 10, at a school in Matamoros, Mexico. (Shaul Schwarz photo/NYT)

This past Friday, Obama made his grand pronouncement that certain illegal immigrants would be exempted by executive fiat from deportation under the immigration laws — those who came to this country when they were younger than 16, have a relatively clean criminal record and are still under 30. (Sounds downright arbitrary and capricious, but that’s another topic.)

Three days later, The New York Times published a long-researched, front-page article about young people raised in the United States who are now living in Mexico because their parents were deported or chose to return home for various reasons.

The story ledes with fifth-grader Jeffrey Isidoro, whose father was deported, being teased by his classmates in a Matamoros school to speak English when answering a teacher’s question.

It contains the typical sociologist hand-wringing: “These kinds of changes are really traumatic for kids. It’s going to stick with them.”

One paragraph of the story observes, “Houston — that is where Jeffrey’s thoughts typically drift. There, he had friends, McDonald’s, the zoo. It is where he lingered at the library at Gleason Elementary to catch up on his favorite series of books, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’ There, his school had a playground; here, there is just a concrete slab. There, computers were common; here, there are none.”

Coincidence or coordination?