Managing wildfire

While Eric Barker’s recent article on prescribed burns was interesting, it did not accurately portray our situation in the West.

The use of prescribed fire is down for two reasons. First, U.S. Forest Service personnel trained in conducting prescribed burns are deployed more each year on wildfires, and often are not available when conditions favor ignition. Second, when adding areas treated under the current let-burn policy for wilderness and roadless areas, plenty of acres are burned to meet overall fuel reduction objectives.

The major shortcoming in the article was not addressing the non-wilderness roadless areas. Without road access and timber management, it is very risky and expensive to initiate prescribed burns in these areas. Often, the agencies just let naturally ignited fires burn commercially valuable timber. Successful prescribed fires in the south, on private lands and on Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal lands are well controlled because there is adequate road access, and most are associated with timber harvest.

In addition, why create more unused wildlife habitat in roadless areas? If we want this habitat to be used by expanding big game populations, we need road access to properly manage the exploding wolf population.

Because of wildfire, the urban interface area now starts at the wilderness boundary. To control massive wildfires, the federal roadless areas must be accessed and managed. If not, huge fires from roadless areas will continue to threaten rural communities.

Bill Mulligan


Challenge accepted

Challenge: A call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel.

What are your challenges? Have you taken part in any challenges? Are you hesitant to accept a challenge?

A few years back, people around the country were doing the winter challenge by dipping into the cold, icy winter water. Many were posting to social media as evidence that the challenge was accepted.

Challenges come in many forms. Although challenge means contest or competition, I believe we as humans must challenge ourselves.

Challenge yourself, your person and your mind to be the best self, person and mind for you.

Challenge yourself to quit eating bad things, drinking alcohol, coffee, energy drinks or pop. Challenge your person to talk to others, help others or put down your phone. Challenge your energy. Challenge your you.

As many challenges will come and go, we must not forget that to achieve, win and overcome a challenge, we must have willpower — willpower to face the challenges head on and the willpower to be as real as you can to yourself.

Etta L. Axtell


Save the fish

By synthesizing 2018 Snake River juvenile salmon survival and loss estimates cited by the Corps of Engineers (per dam), by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (head of slackwater to Bonneville Dam’s tailrace), and by fish researchers (delayed mortality), we see total juvenile salmon survival ranges between a dismal 9.1 percent to 24.3 percent.

Once in the millions, now thousands, Snake River salmon teeter toward extinction, which also imperils inland and coastal families and communities relying on salmon for food or income.

I thank Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson for heeding real fish facts and pushing toward discussion and action regarding breaching the four aged, expensive and moot lower Snake River dams. Scientists state breaching these dams will provide the most needed boost not only to Snake River salmon survival, but also to southern resident orca survival. The orcas, too, are nearing extinction — due to lack of salmon.

For politicians, speaking truth can be risky. Recently, Simpson, in reference to the loss of Idaho’s iconic wild salmon runs said, “If you can’t defend what’s going on, ... then questions have to be asked.”

Questions such as: What if the lower Snake River dams were removed?

It’s time to answer.

Bonnie Schonefeld


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