Op/Ed By Tim Ravndal
Each year in Montana the challenges the people face are compounded by unforeseeable acts of nature. The past natural resource management planning has placed many renewable resources in dire condition resulting in the inevitable scenario of wild fires consuming everything in its path.
2021 is turning into another year in which the conditions delivered to Montana by Mother Nature are at the minimum a threat to many while others are oblivious to the impacts that are mounting.
Current fuel load across all national forests is above manageable thresholds leaving proper management unachievable. Enter eco~extremists that even while choking on the smoke from all the fires will not provide for common sense management. These obstructionists are placing the people that live and work here in danger.
A few weeks ago, Broadwater County Fire District Chief came to the county commissioners asking for help in placing fireworks restrictions on the people in the county. The commissioners agreed with the threat of fire from the celebration, but because the request was not properly presented the commissioners could not act. Broadwater County dodged the bullet with no major calls to respond to fires caused by fireworks.
Broadwater County was just winding down on a forest fire that consumed thousands of acres and destroyed several buildings. That fire was in an area that has been neglected by specific forest designations. Inventoried Roadless Area designations prevents access to these lands for proper management. The Deep Creek fire having these designations at ground zero painted the true picture of mismanagement.
The only thing that worked on behalf of Broadwater County is a private landowner in the immediate area logged their property that would have been in the direct path of the fire. This logging resulted in saving Baldy Mountain from Deep Creek To Duck Creek.
Broadwater County Commission just today, July 19th 2021, adopted a resolution placing Broadwater County in Stage 1 Fire restrictions. Many I talked to, especially in the ranching community are wondering why it took so long. Reacting to pressure instead of responding to the needs is a common practice at all levels of government.
So what is Stage 1 Fire Restrictions?
Fire Restrictions help land management agencies reduce fire risk and prevent wildfires during periods of high to extreme danger.
1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. 36 CFR 261.52 (a) This includes charcoal barbecues and grills EXCEPT: Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire in constructed, permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed recreation sites and the use of portable stoves, lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, pressurized liquid fuel or a fully enclosed (sheepherder type) stove with a ¼” spark arrester type screen is permitted.
2. Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material. 36 CFR 261(b).
3. Operating a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use. 36 CFR 261.52(h).
4. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher. 36 CFR 261.52(i)
5. Using an explosive. 36 CFR 261.52 (b)
There are exception that apply but are limited and under control of restrictions that come with responsibilities.
“1. Persons with a valid Forest Service permit or contract specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission may be eligible for an exemption from Prohibitions #1, #3, #4 and #5. Any exemption must be applied for in writing, include an appropriate mitigation plan and must be authorized in writing by the appropriate Forest Service official.”
When the people wait for government officials to invoke common sense action plans, the credibility of those elected officials are called into question leaving the citizens wondering what is next. If you are not looking at the danger of remaining silent regarding safety and health brought on by forest mismanagement and neglect you are part of the problem.
Enter the new push from the federal government in the preservation of 30 million more acres by 2030 under the Biden 30X30 plan and we will see even worse conditions regardless what Mother Nature has to offer.
Silence Is Consent! ~ Tim Ravndal
The views, opinions, or positions expressed here by the authors and those providing comments are the recordings of the individual rights of the people. Some comments, opinions or positions posted here may not agree with Montana Viewpoint.