Magazine article Insight on the News

Are Owls to Blame for Fires?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Are Owls to Blame for Fires?

Article excerpt

The forest fires tipping through several Western states have sparked a blame game. On one side, opponents of heavy-handed federal environmental regulation, such as New Mexico's conservative Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, contend that the conflagrations have been caused at least in part by current federal regulations. In criticizing federal policies and nongovernmental advocates who use the courts to push their "zero-cut" antilogging agendas, Bradley specifically mentioned a fire in the state's Cloudcroft area that burned 27,000 acres and more than 50 homes, attributing it to efforts to save the allegedly endangered Mexican spotted owl.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rex Wahl of the radical Forest Guardians environmentalist group argues that the problem is people, manifested in "houses and yards." At a recent public meeting hosted by Rep. Joe Skeen, a New Mexico Republican, Wahl urged that homes in threatened areas be required to maintain 100-ft. buffer zones free of "ignition sources." He also proposed that building of any sort be banned in forested areas.

At the same meeting, according to a report in the Mountain Monthly newspaper published in Cloudcroft, Richard Frost, a researcher for the New Mexico State University Department of Agricultural Economics, sided with Bradley. …

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