This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The blame so freely flung by Rep. Mike Noel regarding the reason the forest is burning is unfortunate to say the least.
Before we two-leggeds arrived on the scene and began to count trees in board feet and creeks and rivers in acre feet, the landscape took very good care of itself indeed, and included mixed conifers, wet meadows, beaver ponds, and a full complement of critters that included everything from boreal toads to wolves. Fire was but one tool it used, along with rain, wind and wildlife. It is simply trying to restore itself the way it has for countless millennia, using occasional cool fires to clear out excessive fuel. But, after more than a century of fire suppression, livestock grazing and rampant invasive species, plus a hotter, drier climate, fire now takes the form of destructive, wind-driven crown fires.
The forest cares not a fig that we have built our towns and businesses in its midst, nor does it care whether the fire originated with a lightning strike, weed torch or campfire. It's simply trying to re-balance itself the only way it knows how.
At this point, though, given the herculean, if not impossible, task of cleaning up our messes, it may be that we are in for a lot more "catastrophic wildfires." Land managers, conservationists, ranchers, loggers and scientists have been striving for years to come up with ways to clean up the messes we've made.
We all have different goals, whether it's more board feet or more biodiversity, and we need to learn to cooperate with each other as well as with the landscape.
Noel's incendiary bombast is at least as dangerous as a weed torch in that regard.