Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Austerity budget cuts and the Yosemite fires

Congressional budget cuts made the Yosemite fire worse!
A cluster of controlled fire and tree-thinning projects approved by forestry officials but never funded might have slowed the progress of the massive wildfire in California, a wide range of critics said this weekend.
The massive blaze at the edge of Yosemite national park in the Sierra Nevada mountains has scorched an area larger than many U.S. cities – becoming the fourth-largest conflagration in Californian history, at 348 square miles. The Rim fire -- so-called due to its proximity to a scenic look-out point nicknamed 'The Rim of the World' -- is still spreading, although on Sunday fire officials said it was 40 percent contained – up from 35 percent a day earlier.

Some of the land affected by the fire is in the very location pinpointed by the U.S. forest service for eight projects aimed at clearing and burning brush and small trees that help fuel wildfire.
The projects, which were approved by the U.S. forest service but never funded by Congress, would have thinned the woods in about 25 square miles in the Groveland district of the Stanislaus national forest, much of which was incinerated by the blaze. About 9,000 acres were deemed to be suitable for controlled burning as a fire prevention buffer zones in 2012, the forest service said in a document provided to the news agency Reuters.

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