[Guest post by DRJ]
The U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to clear brush in areas near LA’s Station Fire but stopped work because of weather, wind, and environmental rules:
“Months before the huge blaze erupted, the U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to burn away the undergrowth and brush on more than 1,700 acres of the Angeles National Forest. But just 193 acres had been cleared by the time the fire broke out, Forest Service resource officer Steve Bear said.
The agency defended its efforts, saying weather, wind and environmental rules tightly limit how often these “prescribed burns” can be conducted.
Bear said crews using machinery and hand tools managed to trim 5,000 acres in the forest this year before the money ran out. Ideally, “at least a couple thousand more acres” would have been cleared.”
The fire has destroyed “more than five dozen homes, killed two firefighters and forced thousands of people to flee.”
Environmentalists argue prescribed burns are dangerous and can affect air quality and pose hazards if they can’t be controlled. Due to the need for compliance with environmental rules and delays caused by related lawsuits, some experts argue the best policy is to simply prohibit building in fire-prone areas.
The article is fuzzy on when the Forest Service stopped or limited its efforts to clear brush — saying only that it was “earlier this year” — so it sounds like this happened in the first or second quarter of 2009. The fact that it isn’t blamed on the Bush Administration suggests it was after the Obama Administration took office.