Since 1944, Smokey Bear has reminded us that “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.” If only former Vice President Joe Biden would listen.
The US Forest Service’s memorable ad campaign has been so successful because it reminds us the science shows that the massive blazes we are seeing across the American West are largely preventable.
Apparently, Biden didn’t take the slogan too seriously. Biden has spent the better part of the last four decades pushing failed progressive forest management policies that led us to where we are today. Now, he is ignoring the science telling us that these progressive policies have failed and is instead blaming climate change for the fires wreaking havoc out west.
At a recent campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden argued that wildfires, floods, windstorms, and hurricanes were the direct product of “the fury of climate change everywhere – all this year and right now.”
Not once in his speech did he mention the decades of failed forest management policies that have allowed dead timber and beetle kill to pile up, creating a massive gas can that is now burning uncontrollably.
Far-left activists want us to believe these wildfires are a direct result of climate change, and it’s clear Biden is afraid to cross the science-denying left wing of his party.
Even north stars of the Democrat Party can admit that these forest management policies are contributing to the destruction of homes and livelihoods.
The New York Times calls these policies misguided, saying the “century of federal policy to aggressively extinguish all wildfires rather than letting some burn at low levels…has left forests with plenty of fuel for especially destructive blazes.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom says his administration has “not done justice to our forest management.”
Colorado provides a good example of these failed policies in action. The federal government controls approximately 65% of forest lands, much of which has been plagued by beetle infestations over past decades. Deliberate policy decisions pushed by then-Senator Biden and furthered by the Obama-Biden Administration have allowed millions of dead and dying trees to remain on our mountainsides, offering fuel for these destructive fires.
This was all preventable. Instead of clearing out the beetle kill and lighting controlled burns, state and federal decision makers chose to side with the radical environmental lobby, leaving homes and businesses in the middle of a crackling tinderbox.
Perhaps most telling is the data compiled by the National Interagency Fire Center. This data shows that both acres burned and total fires per year fluctuate over time, but on average the number of fires has decreased, while the number of acres burned annually has increased since 1990. This decreased volume and increased intensity clearly point to an abundance of fuel as the primary culprit, allowing small fires to grow into catastrophic blazes.
Fire management experts have testified that active forest management can decrease the size and intensity of wildfires by 75% and the carbon emissions from wildfires by up to 80%. Despite this, Vice President Biden and the radical left continue to blame climate change, ignoring policy mistakes in favor of worn out-talking points.
It’s time that Vice President Biden and the self-proclaimed “Party of Science” take Smokey Bear’s slogan to heart. Instead of blaming climate change, the left should join conservatives in pushing sound, science-backed forest management policies to protect our homes and businesses.
Congressman Ken Buck is a Republican from Windsor, representing Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.