Fire 101: The 'national' fire plan

Commentary by Sharon Shumate
Republic, Ferry County, Washington

January 19, 2004

There are things people need to know about Hazardous Fuels Reduction Projects - 'prescribed burns.'

The Forest Service, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and, in our state, Department of Natural Resources has adopted THE NATIONAL FIRE PLAN and its implementing policies. The National Fire Plan is part of "ecosystem management" and yes, all these departments already know where the fires are to be set, (township, range and section) and when. After living with the Forest Service in my back yard and being involved for the past 10 years with them, we have been told a lot of things that in practice are not true!

In Ferry County, the first "ecosystem management" project implementing Hazardous Fuels Reduction burned over 5,000 acres and was scheduled to burn 36,000 acres. Local people working at the fire camp retrieved a copy of the map of the proposed burn area. It was stated to the firefighters, "If it doesn't burn, ignite it."

I have maps of the proposed burn areas in Ferry County (Colville National Forest) being sold as Hazardous Fuel Reduction Projects in the Wildland Urban Interface.

The official description of 'Wildland Urban Interface' (WUI) is: The line, area or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels. However, it is actually the Forest Service BOUNDARY line drawn on the map here in the Colville National Forest. The WUI is a line that separates the federal and/or state owned lands from private property owners.

The fires are started right at or near the border of the federal or state owned land - with the intent of the fire spreading to the private property of either inholders or adjoining landowners. You can view these projected fires on the National Fire Plan website ( if you can access the website. Most of the time you find a message that says, "You are not authorized to view this page".

Some terms being used in these "Hazardous Fuel Reduction Projects" include Underburning, Jackpot Burning, Natural Fuels, and Restoration Burn.

Another term included is Aerial Ignition - The use of helicopters to ignite the 'proposed burn area.'

Just on the west side of the Kettle Crest in Ferry County, the Forest Service alone has scheduled 26,878 acres to be deliberately set on fire. My back yard is scheduled for this year, unless I can get it stopped by our State and County elected officials.

The National Fire Plan that targeted hazardous fuels reduction treatments was posted in the Federal Register -- Vol. 66. No 1507, Friday, August 17, 2001. Money allocated for fiscal year 2001 was $400 million dollars. In this budget is an allocation just under sixteen million dollars to be focused on 'local and regional needs that pose barriers to fuels management' -- forest fires on a landscape scale.

How are these barriers being bypassed?

Memorandums of Agreement, directives, manuals, policies, other documents and Federal agencies imposing rules and regulations, usurping authority as though they were acting under law.

It took six years for me to understand the terminology contained in "ecosystem management projects."

Fuels Reduction and Fuels Management It used to mean logging, the harvest of the timber, grazing of the grass by cattle, planting of palatable species of grass for the wildlife, and armoring the forest service roads with grasses that would stop sedimentation and erosion.

It now means in practice: The treatment of fuels that would otherwise interfere with effective Control (by fire). If they can't drive us off the land by destroying our economy, they will burn us out.

Pre-commercial thinning is another term in "ecosystem management projects". It sounds good, however in practice it means: Small diameter trees (up to 4" in diameter and 20 feet tall) have been slashed and left in layers as much as three feet deep. These are the Hazardous Fuels being treated by fire where they burn so hot the soil is sterilized and destroyed for decades.

The one that really got me was Thin/Salvage. It means to thin by fire and then salvage the burnt timber.

I suspect this is being driven by the World Bank Group; their website states "Policy Conversion: the conversion of the Forestry Policy was completed in November 2002. The new Forests policy puts emphasis on the [World] Bank's mission to assist in mainstreaming the sustainable management of forest products..."

Where did the concept of sustainable management come from? The United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 38/161, which set up the World Commission on Environment and Development. Its purpose was to formulate a "global agenda for change." Among the goals: "Propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond."

If deliberately burning our national forests and grasslands is "sustainable development" through the use of THE NATIONAL FIRE PLAN, we must question: Who is it sustainable for? In my opinion, this is pure EVIL and we are at war.

Sharon Shumate

Republic, WA



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