A wave of fear is rippling through the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) today, and spilling down into the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. With a rapidly warming planet now our new normal, wildfire in the Santa Fe National Forest is a real danger.
Unfortunately, there’s something else driving this fear.
A decade ago, we were part of a nationwide effort to contain off-road vehicle access on public lands, including in our forest. We discovered that the off-roaders were unwittingly being used as pawns in a higher-stakes game. Hiding in the shadows behind them were the very powerful pro-fracking, pro-extraction industries.
Why, we wondered, are these guys involved? We concluded they were betting that the degradation caused by unlimited vehicle access would abet their efforts to plunder the resources of our 151 National Forests.
Well the disaster capitalists lost that gamble. But, now it appears they’re back with a new bet: that our primal fear of wildfire will accomplish what the off-roaders couldn’t!
And this time it’s with the blessing of our President. Executive Order 13855, signed in Dec 2018, reads like an industry wish-list, and calls for a substantial increase in “active forest management” – which is industry-speak for more thinning, burning, and logging.
The message is dire: “Allow us to thin and burn the forest under ‘prescribed’ conditions, or Mother Nature will burn it in a way that puts the residents of Santa Fe at terrible risk.”
Scary stuff indeed! The problem is, once you realize that mitigating our climate crisis trumps mitigating wildfire, understand who’s controlling the message and why, and then follow the money, you get that letting nature take its course is nowhere near as scary as their proposed solution!
So, stay tuned!