Bishop: ‘Environmental Extremists’ to Blame for Wildfires

In a USA Today op-ed, Rep. Rob Bishop says environmental litigation is the true culprit behind the increase in catastrophic wildfires on U.S. forestland over the last two decades.

Writes Bishop:

From the 1950’s through the 1990’s, the average amount of timber harvested from national forests average 10 to more than 12 billion board feet. From the 1990s, there was a dramatic decline. Last year, only 2.9 billion board feet were harvested. Much more is needed to restore fire-resiliency to our national forests and protect the millions of Americans that live near them.

Why has this decline been so dramatic? Environmental extremists who worship at the shrine of an untouched landscape disregard decades of forest stewardship experience based on their unshakeable belief that human action is always terrible for the environment. They have made a business model that supports their cause: creating interest groups and litigating the government at every turn in order to stop projects and raise more money to sound the alarms.

These entities have been wildly successful. The onslaught of litigation they have unleashed has brought the U.S. Forest Service to its knees, impeding forest management and putting both humans and wildlife in the path of catastrophic wildfires. Since 1999, Forest Service personnel estimate that time spent on environmental planning and protecting against lawsuits jumped from 40 to 60 percent of employees’ time, draining taxpayer resources and crushing the Service’s ability to actually manage forest land.