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How Radical Environmentalists are the Environment's and Humanity's Worst Enemy

A Tahoe resident's perspective on radical environmentalism:

Here I sit, looking down at lovely Lake Tahoe, but also looking down the hill at the fir forest growing ever thicker and more deadly. Fires always burn uphill. If a fire ever starts at the bottom of our hill, we'll have 10 minutes to escape before the one road out is cut off by the fire. Behind my home, it's nearly impossible to hike off trail because you have to wade through knee-deep piles of dead branches.


The forest is ready to explode. We have too many trees, but no one dares do anything about it.

Plenty of ingredients during the past 150 years have fueled the fire that has denuded hillsides at Lake Tahoe. Gold Rush clear-cutting. Home and ski resort development. Mismanagement of the ecosystem.

But sometimes lost in the discussion is another key ingredient: the legal, political and bureaucratic battle between old and new conservationists. This war has led to policy paralysis -- and the forests and the fire danger keep growing.

[...]

In Tahoe, the situation is exacerbated by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (known locally as the Tree Nazis). The agency's rules override fire marshal guidelines and generally make desperately needed tree thinning impossible. Unless you go through an insanely complex, expensive and lengthy permit process, you can't touch a tree that's larger than 6 inches in diameter, even if it's next to your house. And 6- to 12-inch firs are exactly the type of tree that is the greatest fire danger.

It's an interesting choice: Listen to the fire marshal and save your home and your life, or risk being bankrupted by lawyers of the Tahoe planning agency. Why the agency has been so reluctant to allow more tree cutting is hard to understand.

A major fire is the worst possible environmental event: It would destroy both the land and the lake. How many homes and lives must be lost before we stop building the Tahoe Funeral Pyre?

Good question. Unfortunately, radical environmentalists don't seem to care about people's lives or their homes.


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Comments (35)

Forest fires are a natural ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Forest fires are a natural event. If you build a home in the forest, you are likely to be affected by a fire sooner or later, so you have little grounds for complaint. And it's not accurate to say there are "too many trees" either because that's the natural state of things.

So if you want to say that you want to re-do the forest to make it less likely that fires will spread, fine, but you're remaking the forest to fit people's unnatural needs.

Yikes. Paul,... (Below threshold)

Yikes.

Paul,

When a forest becomes too overgrown, you are correct, it becomes a tinderbox waiting to explode and thin itself naturally as everything burns. And that mean all of the forest dwellers, animals and man included, get to deal with it. But your argument that we are remaking the forest to fit "people's unnatural needs" is the eco-hippies favorite catch phrase in this argument. Dams and levies (something beaver's do also, maybe they are "unnatural" in their needs too?) are also man's attempt to make the environment bend to his will so that people can live in less hospitable areas. Just because it is "unnatural" doesn't make it wrong. Sheesh.

Take a look at all the fore... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Take a look at all the forest fires were having i mean if these eco-wackos would quit interfering with their stupid lawsuits we could take care of the forests better i think these eco-wackos and that includes all those who denate to them and wackos like JULIA(BETTERFLY)HILL should sent to fight some of those fires

Never has there been anythi... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

Never has there been anything so good that too much of it can't become a bad thing.

And so it is with the Taliban, the Jersey Girls, and the dudes burning down those new houses for environmental purity.

So go hug a tree, but when you will not allow anything, ANYTHING, to be touched in the whole damn area, you've gone to the Old Testament land of tree worship.

And then let your eyes gaze over the crispy remains of Yellowstone and remember the dead forest fire fighters who are never honored by the reading of the names on Nightline.

And realize that a managed forest is a better, healthier forest. It and people can get along just fine, each with a better chance of survival.

And to those Taliban Tree Totalitarians, whose crusade it is to return to 15th century pristine lands, I say we have moved well beyond this. Get a life - we also stopped burning witches.

Duncan, I am *not* a tree-h... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Duncan, I am *not* a tree-hugger, I'd just like a little honesty in the discussion. As I said, forest fires are a natural phenomenon and are nature's way of clearing things out so it can begin anew. That's not a bad thing though I can understand when it happens at Yellowstone or Tahoe, people get upset.

And no, it's not wrong to thin forests artificially either. You could make a good argument that it better preserves an environment to regulate it in that manner than to let it over-grow and then burn. But again, it's not "natural" and there are not "too many trees."

I think there should be preserves where man doesn't interfere at all and there should be places where he is allowed to intervene for human interests.

Get a life - we al... (Below threshold)
Get a life - we also stopped burning witches.

Yeah, the Puritans didn't wanna cut down any "old growth" trees for the witches' bonfire.

The best example of ecologi... (Below threshold)

The best example of ecological 'good intentions gone bad' that I'm aware of is the Florida reef made of old tires. What a disaster....

A mile offshore from this city's high-rise condos and beachside bars, where glitz and glamour mix with spring break revelry, lies an underwater dump - up to 2 million old tires strewn across the ocean floor.

A well-intentioned attempt in 1972 to create what was touted as the world's largest artificial reef made of tires has become an ecological disaster.

The idea was simple: Create new marine habitat and alternate dive sites to relieve pressure on natural reefs, while disposing of tires that were clogging landfills.

Decades later it's clear the plan failed miserably.

Little sea life has formed on the tires. Some of the bundles bound together with nylon and steel have broken loose and are scouring the ocean floor across a swath the size of 31 football fields. Tires are washing up on beaches. Thousands have wedged up against the nearby natural reef some 70 feet below the sea surface, blocking coral growth and devastating marine life. Similar problems have been reported at tire reefs worldwide.

"They're a constantly killing coral destruction machine," said William Nuckols, coordinator for Coastal America, a federal group involved in organizing a cleanup effort that includes Broward County biologists, state scientists and Army and Navy salvage divers.

Kim wrote: "radical environmentalists don't seem to care about people's lives or their homes." I was an environmentalist activitst myself in my late teens and early twenties, and I've kept touch with a few of my eco-friends over the years who have remained active activists -- and believe me, these are died-in-the-tie-die radicals -- and not a single one of them 'doesn't care' about people.

They operate on a belief system that puts the earth above man, and they see their responsibility more as shepards of the planet, rather than the other extreme where people may see themselves as masters of it, but it's not a situation where they don't care about people. It's just that they care about the earth more and, like all mortals (and especially activists), they sometimes let their ideologies drive their actions in a way that seems uncaring towards those who 'stand in their way' of them achieving their activist goals.

Paul wrote: Forest fires... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Paul wrote: Forest fires are a natural event.

Yes, they are -- and in a natural environment one would go through any given area every decade or two, cleaning out the accumulated fire-fuel and clearing the way for new growth. Such fire cycles are so natural and normal that species and even whole ecosystems have evolved to fit them. In a natural forest, wildfire does damage, sometimes a lot of damage, but it doesn't wipe out all life over multiple square miles.

But what this excerpt describes is not a natural situation. In fact, it describes precisely the same unnatural situation that led to the Yellowstone firestorm of 1988: a tremendous accumulation of fire-fuel created by decades of unrealistic ideas on "forest management." When a wildfire hits a forest in such a condition, the result is devastating.

Kim, you wrote: Unfortunately, radical environmentalists don't seem to care about people's lives or their homes.

That's right. They don't. To the radical environmentalist, Man is always an intruder in Nature. They follow the Star Trek Prime Directive with regard to nature: interference by Man is always wrong, by definition, no matter what the situation is. And they never learn from experience.

Spoken like a true city boy... (Below threshold)
tonto:

Spoken like a true city boy Mr Hamilton. So tell me, mud or stucco?

Robert, nature changes thin... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Robert, nature changes things constantly. The environmentalists who think that a forest will be unchanged forever are deluded. It will grow, it will burn, and it will grow again. That's the cycle of life for trees.

I guess the other thing I really don't understand is why we think we have to rush in any time there's a fire if it's not threatening any people or property. I realize that it's the sort of headline that will draw a lot of clicks -- FOREST FIRE BURNS A THOUSAND ACRES! -- but its nothing new, and if you take a larger perspective, it's not really a bad thing at all so long as no one is harmed by them.

Trust Leeward to try and ju... (Below threshold)

Trust Leeward to try and justify eco-terrorism. That is what you were doing with that last line in your screed above, wasn't it, Lee?

Oh, and Kim calling environ... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Kim calling environmentalists "humanity's worst enemy' in her headline is exactly the kind of activism-driven extreme on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It's no better (and no worse) than the wacko-environmentalists.

I'd suggest that activists like Kim care more about politics than humanity, but she's done a real good job of making that point already.

See you later! I have to compost some of Wizbang Paul's recent posts - lol. Have a nice Sunday everyone!

Good note, Wolf. The only ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Good note, Wolf. The only thing I'd add to it is that such a fire is devastating *by human standards.* We see burned trees, we do NOT see that the destruction of one generation of forest life is birth to the next.

If you say you want a forest untouched by human hands, then you must be prepared for the results of forest fires as well.

Paul Hamilton,You ... (Below threshold)
TJIT:

Paul Hamilton,

You ignore the fact that decades of human fire supression efforts have made the fuel load in many forests completely unnatural.

A forest fire in an abnormal fuel load situation is a fundametally unnatural process.

I don't understand how you and other people who say

"forest fires are a natural phenomenon and are nature's way of clearing things out"

continue to ignore this critical fact.

Good point, TJIT. As I sai... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Good point, TJIT. As I said above, maybe the best thing we can do if a fire breaks out in a natural forest is to allow it to burn so long as it doesn't threaten people or property.

Lee, a shepherd (or to use ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Lee, a shepherd (or to use the biblical term, "steward") isn't just someone who watches something and prevents any sort of interference. A shepherd grows and protects his flock so that he may take from it in a responsible manner so that it is self-sustaining.

The earth is not "above man," the earth is the place where we all live. Since it's the only planet we have and since we are 100% dependent on it's health for our survival, we must treat it with great respect, but it's not an object of worship of veneration as some folks seem to think by their actions.

Clear-cutting a forest is wrong. Continuing to depend on fossil fuels when the damage it's doing is obvious is wrong. Senseless reproduction when the consumers overstress the environment is wrong. Pouring our crap into the oceans and pretending it will just go away is wrong.

And all these things are just common sense. Look at your children and ask them if you are willing to give them a world worse than the one you were born into and then act accordingly.

"Ask YOURSELF," not "ask TH... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

"Ask YOURSELF," not "ask THEM" in the last paragraph above.

Paul, With all due... (Below threshold)
Tom Gordon:

Paul,

With all due respect, you sound ignorant regarding forest fires, especially as today's fires relate to those fires of past generations.

Environmentalist policies have made the forests so artificial in terms of overgrowth (yes, Paul, there is such a thing, and the amount of growth we have today is not "the natural state of things") that today's fires burn so darn hot they actually destroy the environment, and don't help it as you contend. In short, the intensity of today's fires sterilizes the land and destroy's the environment. Ironic, huh.

I spent some time in German... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

I spent some time in Germany during the 1960's. Amongst my travels included a visit to the Black Forest. Amazingly, this has been a managed forest for years. Not dead snags. In fact it was what I would call a clean forest. All animals effect nature in some way. Beavers cause changes to their environment to fulfill their needs. This is not outside of what enviro-freaks think is ok. Humans live on this planet, why is it wrong for us to modify our environment to suit our needs? Anyone think it might be part of natures plan to have man help clean the forests so they are not as subject to the destruction forest fires cause? After all, a burned forest is not producing oxygen while eating CO2, is it? As to Lee Ward, he exists as a contrary. It makes not difference what the subject, if there is a position on the topic that is both indefensable and stupid. That is where you will find Lee. Truth is not a barrier Lee recognizes in his arguement.

Truth is not a bar... (Below threshold)
Truth is not a barrier Lee recognizes in his arguement.

Truth is not something Lee recognizes, period.

Ask yourself. If clearing/b... (Below threshold)

Ask yourself. If clearing/burning/cutting is
illegal, I take that a sign to encourage humans
to not live in that area. What better way to
push people off of their land and out of their homes
than to make the laws untenable?
When they finally push these folks out, the addresses of the extremist environmentalists should be looked
as well to make sure they are not being double standard and hypocritical. What is good for the goose, the same for the gander.

I saw a fire once and it wa... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I saw a fire once and it was hot.

I saw an interview of a hom... (Below threshold)
marc:

I saw an interview of a home owner in Tahoe. His was the only house in the immediate area that survived, the rest burnt to the ground.

When asked what he did to save his home he said he broke the law!

There is a regulation restricting home owners from clearing brush and dead trees/bushes further than 30 feet from the homes foundation.
He was the only one in his area that cleared his entire lot (one plus acre if memory serves) the rest followed the law and lost their homes to the fire

Lee:Oh, and Ki... (Below threshold)
marc:

Lee:

Oh, and Kim calling environmentalists "humanity's worst enemy' in her headline is exactly the kind of activism-driven extreme on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It's no better (and no worse) than the wacko-environmentalists.

Ok, I'll concede the point, however, the wackos "religious leader" Al the Gorecle is FAR worse.

Here's the take-down of Al's piece of camel dung.

Brian:I saw a ... (Below threshold)
marc:

Brian:

I saw a fire once and it was hot.

Hot enough to melt steel?

If so you better inform the world's most infamous carpet muncher.

1. Tree2. Ropes<br /... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

1. Tree
2. Ropes
3. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency


Some assembly required.


/very slight sarcasm off

Nice article, Marc. I see ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Nice article, Marc. I see why mixti didn't want to talk about ice.
========================================

Forest fires are a... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
Forest fires are a natural event. If you build a home in the forest, you are likely to be affected by a fire sooner or later, so you have little grounds for complaint. And it's not accurate to say there are "too many trees" either because that's the natural state of things.

Then Paul Hamilton, you should have no problem with this statement: Hurricanes and subsequent flooding are a natural event. If you build your home in a city that is several feet below sea level, you are likely to be affected by a hurricane sooner or later, so you have little grounds for complaint.

Yep, John, that is a ration... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Yep, John, that is a rational statement. I would also include homes built on barrier islands.

But just as an aside, the Dutch have vast parts of their nation below sea level and have never had the sort of catastrophic failures that NOLA has suffered on a regular basis. You'd think we'd send somebody over there to take some notes.

But just as an asi... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
But just as an aside, the Dutch have vast parts of their nation below sea level and have never had the sort of catastrophic failures that NOLA has suffered on a regular basis.

But the Dutch haven't suffered under forty years of corrupt democratics governance. Nor likely have they been inculcated in forty years of nanny statism.

Paul Hamilton:... (Below threshold)
marc:

Paul Hamilton:

But just as an aside, the Dutch have vast parts of their nation below sea level and have never had the sort of catastrophic failures that NOLA has suffered on a regular basis. You'd think we'd send somebody over there to take some notes.

I'd agree. Where's Mayor Nagin and Gov Blanco when you need them?

In 1953, a storm flooded tw... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

In 1953, a storm flooded two-thirds of the Netherlands causing thousands to die and a massive reconstruction effort.

It was in the wake of that disaster that advanced storm defenses began to be deployed. Yes they have far better engineering than NOLA, but it was only started after a far bigger calamity than Katrina.

So much for "never".

As you might expect, tropical storms rarely hit Holland as they are far, far away from the hurricane belt. I was only able to find three comparable storms to hit there in the last 300 years. In the latest, the 1953 storm, a ten-foot storm surge hit at high tide.

I suspect that eventually NOLA will respond with far better engineering, less reliance on the Corps, and a less political oversight Board - just as Holland did and for the same reason.

NOLA needed better than cat 3, they needed stuff that worked and frankly, the city needs its own engineers and inspectors. That said, I remember reading warnings about NOLA as far back as twenty-five years ago. I suspect many people down there did too, and chose to risk it and spend the money someplace else. I don't recall anyone making impassioned speeches on the Senate floor calling for better dykes, er, levies.

In fairness we have to say that the Corps, and complacency, were the proximate cause. That should no longer be the case.

Paul,You are 0 for... (Below threshold)
Tom Gordon:

Paul,

You are 0 for 2, now.

Since Ronald Reagan was one... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Since Ronald Reagan was one of the founding fathers of TRPA, does that make him a "Tree Nazi", too?

Fires naturally clear under... (Below threshold)

Fires naturally clear underbrush and fallen branches. I've seen huge trees with as many as five distinct fire damage events apparent on their trunks from undergrowth fires that didn't kill them. They weren't as close together as those trees tend to grow either, so the fire worked to thin the main growth of the forest as well.

Without fire it would make sense for *people* to clear underbrush and fallen branches and thin the trees. It makes sense for people to do the same things that naturally occurring fires do.

Fire or people? Why is fire so good and people so bad? Because anything people do is automatically raping the earth?




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