I sound like a broken record, but the effects of a changing climate are not a short-term phenomenon. Changing environment has been with us long enough and should be a concern for everyone — believers in climate change or not. Temperatures and our seas are rising, our forests are drying out, dying, burning, and our air quality, water supply, and quality are suffering. We can’t wait to address the impact of a changing climate (or “whatever you call it”), or more rural towns like our beloved and iconic Greenville will burn and possibly lose their character and historical significance to a bronze plate on a Clamper monument.
Federal and state land managers’ hands have been tied for years by well-intentioned environmental red tape. It is necessary to protect our forests, our towns, and our health through aggressive forest management. Forest management will require reducing environmental red tape to facilitate and speed up the approval process, which often takes years, for widescale vegetation management projects on national forests and parks. I know there has been planning for more forest management and fire-wise community activities, but what is occurring now—on the ground? Planning is essential, but planning without action is meaningless. We should keep asking, “What is happening now?” Our representatives should ask the same question and take action to promote forest management and accountability to ensure our national forests and parks act to protect our towns, forests, and people.
Along with reducing environmental roadblocks to sound forest management, let us not forget the environmental obstacles to folks who want to rebuild their burned homes in communities like Greenville and Grizzly Flats. Many homes in these older towns throughout the west built without or with minimal building codes and environmental restrictions face significant rebuilding obstacles, including environmental remediation and insurance costs. Longtime residents of our rural communities should be able to rebuild affordable fire-resilient homes. Otherwise, the empty burned lots will end up in the hands of better-heeled speculators who might not care about maintaining the character and historical significance of our rural forest communities.
Our changing environment is a complex and often polarizing issue. No matter how you feel about climate change, we suffer severe impacts on our forests, our towns, and the health of our people. To ignore or deny “whatever you call it” is irresponsible. Doing nothing is unacceptable.
Clayton, former Greenville resident