With the early monsoon rains we’ve received in the last couple of weeks over most of New Mexico, the raging wildfires in the Gila and Santa Fe/Carson National Forests have likely been doused by enough rain to be controlled or extinguished.
When reading a blow-by-blow of the travesty of the Hermit Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in northern New Mexico — caused by inept forest management which called for a prescribed burn at exactly the wrong time of year — I found this gem of a statement.
It was from U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore.
He said that prescribed burns “must remain a tool in our toolbox to combat” catastrophic wildfires.
Maybe he meant to say “to cause” catastrophic wildfires.”
Sorry, Randy, but your agency created a catastrophic wildfire.
Another comment I read from Las Vegas, NM, mayor Louie Trujillo, caught my eye. He noted how the federal government had provided significant financial assistance to the residents of Los Alamos County following the Cerro Grande fire several years ago — also started by a bungled prescribed burn by the U.S. Forest Service. Los Alamos is arguably one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, given the high salaries paid to many employees of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Mayor Trujillo said the much poorer rural population in the area of the Hermit Peak/Calf Canyon fire deserved the same opportunity to recover from the disaster.
“We’re no different than the richest county in New Mexico,” he said. “We need to be indemnified fully for every single loss the people in northern New Mexico suffered.”
I hope so. Many of those who lost homes or livelihoods were not able to afford the property insurance that the more wealthy residents of Los Alamos could purchase.
But of course, a real tragedy remains concerning the Black Fire in the Black Range of the Gila National Forest. Now deemed the largest wildfire in New Mexico modern history, the cause of that blaze is still believed to have been humans. Not only has it blackened most of the forest in the Black Range, but it has destroyed habitats of wild Gila Trout and Rio Grande Cutthroat trout populations.
And as a good friend of ours who owns a cabin (that was thankfully spared) near Winston and Chloride asked:
“What has happened to all the animals in that forest.”