Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today's intersection: the Pautre and Legion Lake Fires


Joe Lowe has called Governor Dennis Daugaard incompetent and uninterested in governing.

South Dakota is the fourth most dependent moocher state yet its governor says he hates dependency.

Cost to We the People for managing the Pautre Fire was about $1 million. No livestock was lost and there was minimal damage to fences. 3,519 acres of federal and 7,160 acres of private property were cleared of invasive grasses.

The US Forest Service knew an advancing cold front would aid the clearing of foot-high grasses and mowed a fire break instead of using a disk to make a fire line. Snow showers ended the fire. There were no injuries and the only structure lost was a derelict rural schoolhouse.
South Dakota Stock Growers Association leaders are questioning what they’re calling an unbalanced response of federal land management agencies to fires that burned public and private land. Representative Lynne DiSanto is bringing forward a bill, on behalf of the Stock Growers Association, that would hold the federal government responsible for their actions. [Today's KCCR]
DiSanto supports the actions of the sleeper cell of armed christianic militants who stormed a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon: a procedure known as "Bleeding the Beast."

Ponderosa pine only reached the Black Hills less than four thousand years ago. When the Custer Expedition came through the Black Hills bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparse and scattered but a century and a half of poor ranching and land management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires and periodic wildfires.

Disturbing soils can allow the growth of plants that had been introduced by European settlers in the 19th Century. After a century of destructive ranching practices invasive grasses infest most of western South Dakota.

South Dakota's vulnerable Republican senior senator wants control over the Department of Interior's science-driven prescribed burns.
Before humans began suppressing them, wildfires occurred naturally in grasslands and forests. Prescribed burns are sometimes conducted to mimic the positive natural effects of wildfires. Wind Cave officials hoped to stave off a catastrophic wildfire by burning off some of the thick, dry vegetation that wildfires feed on. [Seth Tupper]
But another Republican with an actual background in forest management calls the Cold Brook Fire a "roaring success:"
The Wind Cave fire reduced the heavy thatch of dry grass, young junipers and young pine trees that are drowning our forest everywhere, opened up much new grazing ground, increased grazing productivity for buffalo and wildlife, and will turn out to be just what the doctor ordered. [Frank Carroll]
The Wanblee and Cottonwood Fires were long overdue. The largest post-settlement incident in the Black Hills is the Jasper Fire. It's a hardwood release success story.

But, now the shoe is on the other foot. Governor Denny Daugaard has asked and received federal cash to manage the Legion Lake Fire that began on state-owned land and has grown to at least 47,300 acres. South Dakota is a perpetual welfare state and a permanent disaster area.

The human-caused Legion Lake Fire represents strategic failures by Black Hills Energy, the State of South Dakota, South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder and the South Dakota Republican Party. The absence of prescribed burns and the persistence of invasive cheatgrass in the park are just two more examples of poor planning by Game, Fish and Plunder. Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored stands of doghair ponderosa pine that grew after the Galena Fire are feeding the current blaze.

Just as the State of South Dakota sued Black Hills Power and Light after the Grizzly Gulch Fire Black Hills Energy should sue the shit out of South Dakota for the Legion Lake Fire.

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