Letter to the Editor: Let’s use fire tragedy as catalyst for change

Composite image. Fire background photo by Dina Trifonova/Hemera/Getty Images Plus, Firefighter in silhouette photo by slidezero_com/iStock/Getty Images Plus; St. George News

OPINION — As we have watched this fire now consume over 60,000 acres of forest and debated the root cause, (which most locals knew was a ticking time bomb) I hear some call for, and demand civility and for stopping the blame game while we have firefighters in danger.

We all appreciate our firefighters and the amazing job they have done. We would be devastated if any were hurt.

Do we appreciate the firefighters enough that we are willing to get to the root cause and fix this issue going forward?

It will take time, but how about while emotions are high we go to our legislators (local and national) and demand change? Sen. Lee has committed to doing so by pushing a bill he introduced as the “Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act” to expedite wildfire prevention projects in at-risk forests and wildlife habitats. The bill would give federal land managers firm deadlines for reviewing and approving projects and empower them to use proven wildfire prevention strategies like livestock grazing and timber harvesting. I applaud his effort.

How about we look at simple solutions that could make even a small difference like the US Forest Service offering free woodcutting permits to help clear the forest? Even before the fire is extinguished, how about we demand that environmental groups stand down and send loggers into the areas that are not on fire? How about we wait until the snow flies when it’s safer and do some prescribed burns to start clearing the areas not burned? Do we as a public care enough for the safety of those put in harms way to do what it takes to fix this?

How about we use this tragedy as a catalyst to start fixing this so we don’t put so many firefighters in harm’s way? Bottom line–these forests need to be thinned and managed. If this fire doesn’t take our whole mountain, another eventually will if we don’t act.

For years, environmentalist groups have sued the federal government and received millions of dollars in settlements using our tax dollars to push their agenda. Citizens are being quadruple-taxed as a result of environmentalist’s actions. These are the consequences:

  • Timber resource value – up in smoke.
  • Lost economic engine by shutting down job-producing industries – not just timber but now tourism as well.
  • Having to pay federal taxes from billion-dollar payouts to these settlements.
  • Health and land harm from air quality, water quality and total resource degradation i.e. wildlife, scenic, major and micro ecosystems.

These radical environmentalists don’t want the forests managed, this hands-off approach has been a complete failure and we are now paying the price. The amount of timber destroyed so far could build every home in Cedar City three times, not to mention the wildlife that has been killed. What a waste!

Another real challenge after the fire is over is the damage to the community watersheds of Parowan and Panguitch. I cringe to think of the damage to the Sevier, Parowan and Virgin drainages. Another sad fact is that due to environmentalist’s actions in suing on every timber sale, the Fredonia sawmill owned by Kaibab Forest Products is now out of business. Approximately 250 individuals received pink slips, (sawmill employees as well as supporting industries) right before Christmas in 1994. Think of the amount of lumber that could have been harvested by them and other closed mills, that has now been destroyed.

I was given a contact number for a forestry expert in Oregon who consults with the Forest Service. I called him and had a long talk. They are making great headway in managing their forests better. They have been successful in bringing many groups and government agencies to the table and finding common ground to problems. I feel this is an approach worth trying.

I recently posted a resolution our county commissioners passed in 2014 in an effort to solve this ticking time bomb. The support didn’t seem to be there at the time. Is it now? Are you in? Are we willing to stand and work for a solution? I am.

Submitted by PAUL COZZENS, Cedar City councilman

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

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  • comments July 3, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    “I was given a contact number for a forestry expert in Oregon who consults with the Forest Service. I called him and had a long talk. They are making great headway in managing their forests better. They have been successful in bringing many groups and government agencies to the table and finding common ground to problems. I feel this is an approach worth trying.”

    So if you claim oregon can do it? then why can’t utah? We pretty much know most of the failure is the way this state manages things– that, and idiots trying to burn weeds in the worst ways possible. Or is it all the fault of “those evil librul treehugger radical environmentalists”?

    • Badshitzoo July 3, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Troll. Shut up!

      • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:56 pm

        usually only elicit a response like that from r-wing nutters 😉

    • Utahguns July 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      You find pleasure standing on the sidelines, behind your computer keyboard (or in the shadows) and point fingers, complain and generally b….* about everything that’s printed on this site.
      Stand up, man-up (if possible) and try to offer some positive inputs. You seem to have a trace of intellegence that might be beneficial. Besides, the word “liberal” is not spelled “librul”, although I know you’re trying to be funny.
      Your comments are getting pretty tiresome and generally now becoming a waste of peoples time.

      Go ahead, respond with your typical “right wing, wing-nut, neo-con” confabulation*.

      * the replacement of a gap in a person’s memory by a falsification that he or she believes to be true.

      *Ed. ellipses

      • comments July 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        Don’t like it? You can scroll right on by. I’m not here to babysit anyone. it’s pronounced “librul” and I don’t try to be funny. Right wing loons and nutters actually offend me how ignorant they are. For instance it’s pure stupidity, ignorance, and maybe a bit of smugness to say “this fire is all the fault of the librul treehuggers”. You’re always welcome to whine about postings, but if you like ‘funny’ go find yourself a clown.

  • voice of reason July 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    You are so completely wrong on this issue as to what the real cause of this fire was. You want to blame the Friends of Dixie Lawsuit. Guess what, they lost and the timber was offered for sale BUT NO ONE WANTED TO BUY IT!!!!!

    You want to blame “radical environmentalists” for the change. Why not blame the radical capitalists that clear cut millions of acres around the turn of the century and wiped out entire species. The environmental movement was raised in response to the free market capitalists who destroyed so much of the old growth timber and destroyed entire ecosystems in pursuit of profit.

    Environmentalists didn’t shut down the mill in Fredonia. Free market Capitalism shut it down. Timber was cheaper and more readily available in better markets.

    You and Mike Noel both need to sit down and educate yourselves. I’m one of your constituents and I kind of like you. You are a smart guy, but don’t be so dumb. Quit blaming the Feds for this. That fire burned on private and state property for three day before it touched any Federal land.

    • comments July 3, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      It’s what bothers me most about r-wing nutters. They don’t deal in facts. They’re like those on the extreme left–purely emotion driven, using bs sources of info.

    • happydad July 4, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      The Fredonia saw mill wanted to purchase it but there was so many lawsuits that they could not get the timber. Yes the Friends of the Dixie lost eventually but not until the timber was worthless. I think they would rather see it burn than see stumps as Noel correctly stated.

  • Proud Rebel July 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    How about we use this tragedy to outlaw stupidity? Stupidity is really at the heart of not only this problem, but of all problems.
    And since none of us are perfect, I guess this would make us all outlaws. And if we are all outlaws already, then I guess we can pretty much do what we want.

    Which seems to be what some of the more stupid individuals are already doing.
    I think it is completely insane, that whoever this idiot is that started the fire, is being “protected.” The media should have his name, his address, his phone number and his picture plastered all over the news.

    Oh yeah, I believe that “those evil librul treehugger radical environmentalists,” are certainly part of the problem here.

  • delong July 3, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    There is a reason that Oregon has a timber industry. The trees in Oregon and parts of Idaho make Cedar Mountain’s trees look like toothpicks. Additionally, the Brian Head Fire is burning in Mixed Conifer. There’s a reason we call mixed conifer “Piss Fur” as it’s worth a lot less than a Ponderosa Pine Forest and will never sustain a market. There are huge fires in Oregon and Idaho also. What the overstory (timber) lacks, the understory (brush) thrives in all forests.

    The larger problem is we don’t let enough fires burn and play their natural role on the environment but……. due to poor zoning and planning, we have created the mess we are now in after a hundred years of fire suppression. Fire is the only thing that will eliminate the Beetle Kill problem.

  • Stephen Joe July 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Blaming the situation on environmentalists is calculating and reprehensible. It is more the problem of ignorant and greedy politicians such as the writer of this pseudo-intellectual diatribe.

    • Proud Rebel July 3, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      What is calculating and reprehensible, are the tree huggers who will never, ever, under any circumstance, admit that they have played a big role in creating the major forest problems. Sure, there are other causes as well. But when a parasite is allowed to kill whole forests, because the tree huggers went to court and stopped the forest service from spraying the bugs, and then when the forest dies, the tree huggers have stopped logging, not only commercial, but private wood cutting, they have to bear some of the responsibility. Like it or not, believe it or not, it is only common sense.

      • comments July 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

        tree huggers?… You know, environmental degradation is a huge problem in this country and around the world. By the end of my life I think this planet might be in pretty sad shape. Massively expanding populations and the never ending need to extract more resources… I think the “tree huggers” are the only ones who actually care…

  • Real Life July 3, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hey Paul, not one mention of the IDIOT burning weeds? I mean ticking time bomb, sure, but come on. I think he had maybe just a little to do with it.

  • utahdiablo July 4, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Need to stop selling fireworks in these dry areas too, but that will never happen because of the greed

  • Travis July 5, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Since when does Utah care about air and water quality. The BLM wants to lease to oil and gas companies to drill by Zion National Park. I find it hard to believe that the people living near these forests listen to the laws and don’t already clear for their own needs. Remember this was a resident of the mountain who started this fire.

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