Burning Forests = Failing Legislature

(Photo credit: Street Roots News--photo in the public domain)

Oregon’s forests burn, wildlife is destroyed, our air is polluted, and carbon is released. It’s not because of climate change, not because of an act of nature or of God, not because of carelessness of citizens, but because of decades of failure by Oregon’s legislature. These legislators need to be replaced. We must pass term limits to replace them.

When man is not present, nature maintains the wellness of forests. Each year at the end of summer and into early fall, lightning strikes and fires are lit. The crucible of fire cleanses the forests. Excess vegetation is consumed, old and sick trees burn, but the strong trees survive. Fall and winter rains quench the fires. Spring brings new life and new growth. Annual fires do not consume our forests, but strengthen and cleanse them, renewing the cycle of life.

With the arrival of man, fires cannot burn in an uncontrolled fashion. Fires are routinely quenched to prevent personal property damage. Vegetation piles up year after year. Old and sick trees are not culled by fire, but live on. The risk of catastrophic fire, fed by the unnatural accumulation of vegetation and vulnerable trees, steadily increases and increases.

Our choices in the face of this reality are twofold. The best way is to replicate the effect of annual natural fires through the selective removal of vegetation and the selective cutting of timber. The selected timber can be used for commercial purposes to bring additional wealth to our state. Oregon’s legislature has not chosen this approach.

Rather, the Legislature has passed laws which make it extremely difficult, almost impossible, to remove accumulated vegetation and thin timber in our state forests. Our Federal legislators have behaved similarly. Their combined failure gives us the piles of accumulated fuel for the catastrophic fires that we are now experiencing. Fires now no longer cleanse, but destroy life and destroy our forests.

The time for new leadership has come. Incumbent legislators claim, “Every election is a chance to replace an incumbent.” Not true. Incumbent legislators who seek another term win 95% of the elections that they run in. The system is “rigged,” heavily tilted toward victory by the incumbent. The system has given us legislators who lack the courage to do what is necessary to protect our forests.