I love my adopted home state of Montana. I have often written of how the western part where I live is the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen. And I have been to some amazing places. I fell in love with the mountains as soon as I saw them and I feel safe and comforted in my little valley. The mountains awe me every single day even after almost ten years. I can’t believe I get to look out my windows and see such beauty every single day.
Like every part of the world Montana has its particular natural disaster. While we do get some nasty storms the real worry is fire. When you live in a county that has far more trees than people you are very aware of the health of the forest and lately the forest has not been healthy. The winters have not been as cold as they have been in the past which has allowed the pine beetle to flourish, there have been more seasons of drought and there have been issues with general forest management as the environmentalists fight with the Forest Service over how to best handle it.
I try to stay away from hot topics on my blog but this is my home that is burning up and there is no easy answer as to why the forest has gotten to its current state. On the one side there are the people who go all Biblical and rely on the Genesis story that God gave man dominion over the Earth and use this to claim that all resources are to be exploited for the benefit of man no matter the cost to the environment. No matter the effects on future generations. First come, first served and who cares about anyone else. This so goes against the message of Jesus in the New Testament but this type does tend to pick and choose what is needed from the Book that is so used to prove a point.
On the other hand are the extreme environmentalists who think nothing should be touched. That man has no right to interfere in any way. I believe some of them would be happiest if we all moved to the cities and never walked in the woods again as if they had some special right to oversee nature.
Both extremes are just that – extreme and if you ask me the best way to deal with the forests is to find some manner of balance. If you ask most of the old time Montanans their answer will be logging. I see it all the time in the letters to the editor. They all look back to the glorious past of Montana’s logging industry. Not remembering that the forest of 1985 has little or no bearing on the forest of 2015. The environment has completely changed since then – within the forest and in the need for wood. The answer is not to look back; economic conditions are not the same as they were back then.
So where am I going with this? And why am I spouting all of this? Because my view has been completely obscured lately. Two of the wildfires in Montana are relatively close to me; the West Fork Fish Creek Fire and the Little Joe Fire. One to the east and one to the west. It’s the larger of the two, the West Fork Fish Creek fire that is closer and the one that could cause the most issues. On Saturday the hubby told me to gather the important papers and have them ready to go in case of evacuation. I’m not overly attached to any of the things in the house – but I was worried about the animals. There was nowhere for me to get the goats and he was out dealing with the fire. I could take the cats but the goats would be left on their own.
I was very sad about this because Pricilla is old and it would surely have killed her. I am happy to note that I have solved this problem for the future so the goats will now have somewhere to go. The smoke though, is not good for any of us. It’s been thick and heavy for over a week. It cleared out yesterday and today is gorgeous but it is supposed to get all smokey again tomorrow.
I will have to face this threat of fire every summer since I live in the forest. I don’t think the answer is a return to 1985 any more than I think the answer is never stepping into the woods again. In my opinion we need responsible logging practices along with the acceptance that the weather is changing and that is impacting the forests’ eco-systems. A certain amount of fire is necessary for the health of the forest. Some trees need fire to reproduce. There just needs to be a balance in how fire and the forest is managed.
I don’t think there are any truly easy answers and these are my opinions which I know differ from a lot of people here in my state but I’m certainly entitled to it. I just hope the current fires stayed as calmed down as they currently seem to be. As for now I’m going to enjoy today’s clear skies. I doubt they will last long.
I have my laundry out on the line and I can take nice, deep breaths for the first time in over a week. The goats are happily frolicking in their pens. I truly hope it all stays this way.