June 6, 2018
Randy Moore (or current Pacific Southwest Regional Forester) United States Forest Service Region 5
1323 Club Dr,
Vallejo, CA 94592
Sent Electronically and by Certified US Mail
Subject: Formal Protest Against US Forest Service Region 5 Managed Burn Activities Which Release Toxic Air Pollution Causing Public Health Effects up to and Including Death
In light of well documented public health hazards from forest smoke (one of many articles is linked below), we protest US Forest Service Region 5’s purposefully grown managed burn activities which cause adverse public health effects up to and including death. Your agency’s managed burn activities adversely affect the health of all citizens, including children, pregnant women, persons with COPD and ADA qualified individuals.
We are referring to your agency’s managed burn activities that protect structures on one fire front while, largely unknown to the public and the press, are purposely grown on other fronts rather than performing early containment and control. This for the purpose of carrying out debatable forest land resource objectives and/or avoidance of fire suppression costs, despite scientifically proven toxic effects on human health caused by the pollution that managed burns create.
These managed burns often result in a huge and dangerous air pollution impact to neighboring communities, ranches, recreation and wildlife often times hundreds of miles away. There is overwhelming evidence that wild land burn smoke is causing wide spread health effects up to and including death among all of our population, not just the young, elderly or other sensitive risk groups.
According to recent studies, between 5,000 and 25,000 people will die each year from PM2.5 wildland fire smoke. Beyond the acute adverse effects from the smoke, it is also now recognized that oxidants found in smoke can cause genetic damage. Can a case be made linking many of these deaths in part to federal agency created and purposely grown managed burn policies? Most probably.
The public is largely unaware, that your own Federal Burn Agency ASR strategy policies were put in place 40 years ago to accomplish a “cost-effective response to fires that escaped initial attack” and would depart from the strategy of “early containment and control.”
Therefore, shouldn’t public health impact costs, including hospital, doctor and emergency room visits as well as medical and Medicare costs from toxic smoke exposure be included in every early cost assessment when considering managed burn decision making? What about the costs of public suffering as well as the 5,000 to 25,000 deaths per year?
How many more deaths, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and suffering, along with increases in medical/Medicare spending will occur until this unnatural, destructive eco-scaping process is stopped
Citizens are told to be “fire adapted”, however the human lung is not and never will be “smoke adapted.”
As you know, tactics surrounding agency created managed burns often include purposeful slow initial direct attack, taking unnecessary time to determine whether or not to grow a given fire, little or no direct heavy or sustained air attack using fire retardant air drops (except for structure or infrastructure protect), minimal flanking ground action, withholding of heavy equipment while the fire is allowed to purposely grow as well as a variety of other minimum impact suppression tactics that you are well aware of.
When it comes to the public’s right to know, it’s apparent that your agency often avoids daily open press conferences, limiting the public knowledge to pre-prepared press statements and limited contact through dispatch center spokespersons. This as your agency avoids critical dissemination to the public of any early determination of your decision to manage a fire rather than practice early containment and control. Burn agencies then almost immediately label and report these purposely grown managed burns to the public, press and politicians as wildfires, a term suggesting an out of control natural fire that agencies and special interest academia describe as the “new norm”.
As you may be aware, and as various news articles indicate, these managed burns often turn into mega pseudo-prescribed burns, which allow burn agencies like yours to sidestep air quality burn permits that would have otherwise been required to undertake such a massive prescribed burn process.
This egregious action is continuing to pollute our Sierra Nevada and foothill communities and adversely impact our families, wildlife and recreation up and down the entire Sierra Nevada Range and the Sierra Front including the communities around Reno, NV and the Carson Valley. We urge you to stop this assault on our Sierra Nevada clean air.
Additionally, we are aware of a new push to increase “prescribed” fire treatment to the tune of an additional 500,000 acres a year in California alone. This idea will simply increase agency created pollution each year without meaningful control and boundaries of either “managed” or “prescribed” burns. In short, this appears to be a burn agency scheme to burn more. There is no true conclusive science or objective statistics supporting this utopian approach, fostered and propped up by special interest academia studies since the 1970’s.
Continuing managed burn policies as well as the recent call to burn an additional 500,000 acres in California per year is unsettling, since according to the SF Chronical (November 18, 2017) “Greenhouse gas emissions across the California economy inched downward by 1.5 million metric tons that year… And just one fire in 2015, the Rough Fire, in the foothills of Fresno County produced 6.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, according to an estimate from the U.S. Forest Service. Other fires that year on federally managed land within California emitted 16 million metric tons”.
And according to the story, “2015 was not an isolated case. In 2013, for example, the state’s economy cut 3.89 million metric tons of emissions, while wildfires produced as many as 22.4 million metric tons, according to the Forest Service. The Rim Fire alone, started near Yosemite National Park that August….emitted between 10 million and 15 million metric tons. The Rim Fire burned 257,314 acres of forest”.
As you know, history has shown that both the Rough fire and the Yosemite Rim fire eventually became managed burns.
Please make air quality and public health the #1 priority and help stop these unnatural, destructive managed burns.
Link: Nevada News and Views Article
Doug Flaherty | President Tahoe Sierra Clean Air Coalition
A Nevada 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corporation (775) 345-3465
774 Mays Blvd 10-691 Incline Village, NV 89451
“Tahoe Sierra Clean Air…Protect it”
News story link, below: