Bush, Schwarzenegger, Nader and the Greens, even mavericks like me were to blame. But in no way, shape, or form was the Davis administration's 'pay for play' policy -one that continues even as he is shown the door- considered. Also overlooked was the willingness of the Democratic Party's rank and file to accept such behavior.
Similarly, what will come to be known as the 'Great Fire of 2003' is likewise, a study in political, industrial, and community unwillingness to accept responsibility.
Not long ago, SB 754 (Perata D-Oakland), a bill which would have protected California's last old growth forests, died in the Natural Resources Committee, when Democrats Lois Wolk and Cindy Montanez chose -for reasons unknown- not to cast votes for or against this bill. Failure to pass SB 754 is now magnified a thousand fold, as the White House, Senate, and logging companies, have used the recent fires to attack forest protections in much the same way the Bush administration used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to undermine American personal freedoms.
Under the guise of forest 'thinning', and by a lop-sided 80-14 vote, the Senate has passed a bill that gives the logging companies carte blanche to destroy our last precious old growth forests with virtually no environmental review. To quote Traci Thiele of the Environmental Protection Information Center (E.P.I.C.) in Garberville, "We used to have the Fox guarding the Hen House, now it's the Hyenas".
More than half the moneys allocated for forest 'thinning' will be spent far away from any homes, resulting only in an unregulated, unchecked sell off of our nation's wooded heritage, a logging company's dream come true. Passage of this knee jerk legislation will create more problems than solutions, generate more questions than answers;
With their widely disparate missions, should -as activists have long suggested- the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention be broken into two separate agencies?
Why were helicopters called back during the critical first moments of the fire?
Should municipal budgets continue to rely heavily on developer's fees, resulting in an all-too-willingness to OK development, particularly in questionable areas?
between the owners of the thousands of homes destroyed, how many Sport
Utility Vehicles do they own and drive? Rather than placing blame on environmentalists
or even on trees, perhaps we should all take responsibility for contributing
to climate change (September was the warmest month since record keeping
began!), and the unprecedented cycles of drought, leading to the weakening
of trees and their subsequent vulnerability to pests like the Bark Beetle.
It is we who have taken a healthy, verdant garden, and turned it into
the 'ghost forests' of fuel that stoked the hellish inferno. We must change
our failed forest management practices, stop blaming the trees for the
fires, and for God sakes, accept some
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