The forest fires now raging in Northern New Mexico are tragic. As with any tragedy the causes are myriad and there is ample blame to go around. However, we DO know that the largest fire was a result of a “controlled” burn by the US Forest Service.
And, we know that federal land management practices have left a lot to be desired for decades in New Mexico with needed management having been abandoned in favor of simply letting the forest grow.
RGF’s Paul Gessing wrote the following in an opinion piece back in 2014:
Our efforts to restore state control over certain federally-managed lands are by no means based entirely on economics. Climate change is often cited in the media as the cause of recent forest fires that have raged in New Mexico and throughout the West. The reality is that poor federal management (or the lack thereof) is a major contributor to rampant fires. Going back to the Native Americans, lands were intensely managed. That ended when environmental zealots took control of Washington’s land management bureaucracies, eventually putting a stop to timber production and engaging in aggressive fire suppression that has caused a buildup of flammable material on forest floors.
Climate change, drought, and numerous other issues all play a role in the fires we are seeing, but improved land management remains an important tool in preventing the tragic situation we are seeing unfold in our State.