by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel
The daily news is rife with stories about the disastrous forest fires that rage all around us, in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, and especially California, where a single fire has destroyed over 250 square miles and burned more than 1,000 homes. Across the West, 25 different fires in six states have grown larger than 10,000 acres. But we hardly need television to know about it, with thick smoke hanging over virtually every valley in the Rocky Mountain West.
Naturally, the news focuses on the loss of homes, human lives, and health problems caused by smoke. What seems almost taboo in the extensive news coverage is an apparently uncomfortable subject — the destruction of endangered species and their habitat. A good friend sent an email pointing out that “It’s ironic that litigation over Mexican spotted owls was the primary reason that forest management was shut down in Arizona,” even though the government says, “crown fires in overgrown forests have become the greatest cause of unusual losses for the birds.”