The sequester (a budget deal Obama made with republicans last year) cut more than $115 million from the federal wildland fire program budget, USDA officials have said, at a time when the nation continues to face abnormally dry conditions, particularly in the West, as a result of climate change.
During one of the worst wildfire seasons on record amid a historic drought, the USDA Forest Service ran out of money last year to pay firefighters, operate trucks and fly aircraft. The agency borrowed money from fire management budgets, which help prevent fires, to pay for suppression.
Given the cuts in the Forest Service’s fire budget because of sequestration, and the outlook for significant fire potential in much of the West, that process could play out again, a USDA spokesman said.
“If the U.S. Forest Service exhausts funding . . . for fire suppression in 2013, as it did in 2012, it will be necessary for the agency to transfer funds from other programs to cover fire suppression costs,” said the spokesman, Larry Chambers.
Posts tagged firefighters.
Wildfires in Spain still blazing. Spain was not prepared for the number of fires this year - a peak into the future… More here.
Marines called in to help fight wildfires.
Wildfires roast western states
At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.
The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.
“…hundreds of federal scientists in charge of environmental monitoring are being laid off as part of the 1,500 government professionals affected by Conservative budget cuts.
“Doctors, biologists, chemists are being shown the door. These scientists monitor environmental changes that can threaten the health of Canadians,” said MP Hélène LeBlanc…
“Prime Minister Harper has dropped any pretence that he cares about Canada’s natural environment, reducing the federal government’s oversight role to miniscule proportions,” said May, who represents British Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands in Parliament.”
Click through. Stunning photographs of recent wildfires in the southwest.
The sky turns a brilliant orange as smoke from the High Park Fire fills the sky near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012.
See more. [Image: Reuters]
BREAKING: The raging High Park fire has jumped the Poudre River at Stevens Gulch and is racing up a drainage toward the Glacier View Meadows neighborhood.
At 5:15 p.m., Larimer County issued an immediate evacuation order for the Glacier View Meadows neighborhood.
The High Park fire has now burned more than 52,000 acres northwest of Fort Collins, fire managers said. (Photo by Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
Wildfire season is well underway. Based on the number of acres burned in 2012 to date, this year is running below the 10-year average (1,012,419 acres compared to 1,546,333 acres). What’s notable though is that although there have been fewer fires (24,062 this year-to-date versus 33,755 for the 10-year average), a few are giant beasts.
This fire may have been caused by a state controlled burn.
Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County, Colorado
— More than 400 firefighters from several states were focusing on building containment lines around the wildfire, which broke out Monday. Until now, the fire’s erratic pattern has forced firefighters to focus on protecting homes, not stopping the burn.
- Crews have been able to achieve 15% containment on the fire. The current affected area has been updated to 4140 acres.
- Air crews dropped more than 4100 gallons of retardant on the fire on Wednesday.
- The number of damaged structures remains at 27. The owners of all but one structure have been notified.
- A search team using dogs continues to look for a woman missing in the fire zone. Her home was among those destroyed or damaged.
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has suspended the use of state prescribed burns like the one that may have caused the fire.
The Arizona Wallow Fire is the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history. It is only 38% contained and has burned 500,409 acres.
Beautiful? Yes. But effective journalism? Nope. I felt nothing while looking at this photo essay by The Atlantic’s In Focus photo blog. Here’s why.
Photo essays by big name media groups are very popular. And the field is quite crowded: Boston’s Big Picture, LAT’s Framework, WSJ’s Photo Journal, NYTimes Lens Blog, etc. They’re all obviously competitive, and of course evoke contemplation.
But I feel they are too revered. As if their photos are the ultimate and last word on stories that span multiple news cycles. An unquestioned exclamation point. I’ve yet to come across a critique of these photo blogs. Are they “accurate”? How did the editors choose the frame? Are they cropped ‘n shopped? What is the story they’re trying to tell?
Context is void, assumed. And photos are reblogged without much discussion, as if there exists some sort of default mode of affirmative photojourno-superiority.
But look at this photo of wildfires in Texas. It shows lowland hills ablaze in fiery light and smoke. In the foreground, a volcano shaped hill, evoking in the brain subliminal eruptions of lava and chaos. But then the eye is drawn away from this disorderly disaster, and to the familiarity of humankind’s superiority - the rigid architecture of a silvery space telescope. It’s geodesic dome rests atop a rigid rectangular laboratory, also in silver. A ribbon of road slices across the frame. It’s a stunning shot of incredibly juxtaposition. As my eyes sweep this frame from chaos then to order and then into the reality of my office, I’m just left watching, perhaps waiting with detached emotions and a weird feeling of control.
What am I missing? What do these photos not show, if not more disaster porn? I had to dig around, but here’s some humanity,
- Towns, even prisons are being evacuated
- Republican Rick Perry both prays to God and asks Obama for help
- 1,000,000 acres burned
- Homeless man charged with starting the fire
- Two firefighters, killed
- Two thirds of Texas’s wheat crop, destroyed, impacting commodities markets
- Fires can move a football field per 60 seconds
The rest of the photo essay is here. But I still struggle with a weird sense of unsatisfaction.